Tag Archives: Upbringing

Speak.

I love my new therapist. For those of you who are in therapy, I highly suggest switching therapists at least every 3 years. A lot of growth and discovery can happen in three years when you’re committed but after that time, it is necessary to have someone else’s strategies, if for no other reason than to shake you out of your comfort zone. I have reluctantly changed therapists three times (and by therapists, I mean the 3 good ones I’ve had). This time, I took a year off and then finally realized that it was time to bite the bullet and “start over.” That is why it took me so long to see someone else – I just could not bear the thought of rehashing my entire life for someone new. I even thought it may be unhealthy for me to do so. Not so! She has an entirely new approach and expertise in areas I didn’t even realize would be relevant for me, such as post traumatic stress. I’ve learned extremely valuable lessons from each of my therapists – but there’s something different about the one I have now. She questions me, which means she’s really listening. She challenges my thinking, which means she’s not afraid to call me on my shit – who doesn’t need to be called on their shit!? NO ONE. The most important thing she has done so far, though, is to validate me in very specific and important ways.

I have come to a place where I tell “my story” as if I’m reading from a script to anyone who will listen. I almost don’t even thing about the events of my life, I just explain them and then ask, “Why am I not over it?” I didn’t have my records transferred to my new therapist because I wanted to start anew, and this was a wise choice. As I am explaining matter-of-factly the huge decision my parents made when I was 15 that I’ve always said forever changed my life, she stopped me and reminded me, “You realize that a decision means they had a choice, don’t you?” My immediate response was “Well, they didn’t really have a choice… my dad would have lost his job if…” She stopped me. “What may or may not have happened with your dad’s job is part of what they had to weigh when making the decision. But regardless of the factors that played into their decision, it was still a choice.” I was somewhat speechless and shocked that I’d never actually believed it was, which had allowed me to pity them and feel guilty for being angry at their decision for so many years. I had to think about it for a few weeks before I could make sense of it. And it seems so simple, doesn’t it?

I started to realize how often my parents, and my entire family for that matter, present scenarios to me as if another choice other than the one they are choosing is just not possible. In fact, every one of these circumstances absolutely do involve the option of a more respectful, less hurtful choice. So, I started to ponder the concept of choice in general. This realization has freed me in a way 200 more therapy sessions of hearing myself talk never ever could have. I’ve told that particular story my therapist heard at least 20 times to various people in my life, therapists and friends alike. Every time I have presented it as a tough situation for my parents in which they had no other choice. Just changing the beginning of the story will now change the way I tell the rest of it. This particular epiphany is quite monumental.

Since I have decided that this new therapy journey I’ve just embarked upon will be the one that heals me apart from my family as well, I have been pushing myself to challenge my self-talk. And, what do you know? I do it too. I make decisions and remain in circumstances as if another choice is simply not an option. “I hate my job but I can’t do anything about it because I have to stay here so my husband has the freedom to change jobs as he wishes because he’s hated his job longer than I have and our benefits are with my job.” Now, it may seem noble of me to make that decision. But I’ve been making that decision A LOT, practically for our entire marriage. I just figured out part of the reason I have such resentment for my husband – because of CHOICES that I have made. It is a choice for me to stay in my job. I have potential that far outreach my day-to-day “duties” and yet I accept that doing anything but collecting that paycheck and those benefits is “impossible.” It’s not impossible. The resentment plays in when I don’t see my husband actively applying himself to looking for a new job as I feel he should. So, he doesn’t spend every waking hour looking for a new job – the longer he spends procrastinating the longer I have to stay in my job, and you see how the tension in my house remains fairly high. What I really need to do is to make a different choice.

A wise friend once told me that taking care of yourself is the most important thing you can do, because if you don’t do that, you can’t take care of anyone else. I used to think that was selfish way of thinking – and the reason I felt that was a selfish way to think is in part because I have been surrounded by people who did not take care of themselves my entire life. I was also taught that any attempt to take care of self was, in fact, selfish. I am still being taught that looking out for myself is selfish.

And, here we arrive at the title of this post. This weekend, my parents were to come to town – for their usual 24 hour visit. The details of what occurred aren’t really relevant. My parents made another hurtful and extremely selfish decision. Considering many recent events in my and my sister’s lives, we were both extra bothered by this decision. My sister has always been the peace maker and regardless of how upset she is, she will never stand up and say why. I usually don’t either, but I’ve been closer and closer to the end of my rope in the last two years and I finally couldn’t take it any more. I refuse to enable their behavior, and that is a choice that I’ve been making for my entire life now – mostly subconsciously but now that I realize there are other choices, I’m going to start making them. I called my mother and explained to her that her decision had caused unnecessary confusion, energy, and hurt. I was respectful, calm, and very direct. I am not normally direct. 10 minutes after I got of the phone with my mom, my dad called. I let it go to voicemail because I knew exactly what had happened in the last 10 minutes. My mom called my dad and told him that I was mean. My dad called me to “punish” me. His voicemail essentially said that he didn’t like my “attitude” and that I could call him if I wanted to discuss the situation. Let’s be clear… by “discuss” he meant lecture. I was not interested in being lectured, so I made a choice to save myself the pain that would have come from taking his verbal abuse in that moment. The voicemail was enough.

So, blogger friends, this is a giant step in the right direction for me. I like this study on the power of choice. I like the perspective it’s given me. The realization that my parents have had a choice in how they treated me and still treat me gives me the freedom to take back the power of my own choices. And I choose not to sit by and let their choices affect my daily life any longer. It will be and has been a long journey, but I am getting there. The first step was today, when I made the choice to SPEAK. And I think I’ll be doing that much more often.

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Opposing Lenses

“Everything you see is, is through a lens, huh?” He said, as if he understood me.*

*conversation with my father, tonight.


Reformation

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and there are far too many reasons to explain why.  Ultimately, I am finding that blogging is getting harder instead of easier.  I realized that while I started this blog as an attempt to try and explore myself and write my own story, that instead I ended up writing the story of my marriage.  Which, I will never understand, has been easier.  The story of my bipolar marriage is not a fun one to tell, I struggle every day with what my love for my husband means and what his love for me means.  I struggle with the concept of a soul mate… whether mine really does exist out there.  I struggle with the lack of solid support in my life, I struggle with strength of self.  I struggle with the idea that I have settled for a life less than what I imagined it should be.  A very good friend remarked that having an oppressive marriage feels at times like your life is being stolen away from you, day by day, hour by hour.  I’ve felt that way.

But.

In the beginning of my blog journey, I wanted to to explore myself.  I wanted to tell my stories.  I didn’t want to harp and hound my marital circumstances.  I don’t think they will change, regardless of what drastic measures do or do not happen.  I don’t think my marriage is ever going to change.  I think this is the life I chose for myself and am still choosing to live in for the moment and so that I need to make the most of it.  I don’t mean this quite as cliche as it sounds.  It just is.  I’ve not accepted inexcusable behavior, nor will I fight for myself any less.  I am a different, stronger person than I was when I met my husband and that is irreversible.

For now, I need to stop focusing on what I can’t change.  I need to focus on what I can change.  The blog was titled “the colors of me” because I wanted to tell my stories.  I have so many stories to tell.  Telling them will no doubt bring me closer to myself.  I need to be there, I need to understand what makes my heart beat before I go blaming someone else for not making it beat stronger.  My strength needs to come from within.

I have come a long way in my search for understanding.  I’m still young and I have a long life ahead of me.  I also have a past that is filled with family secrets, denial, shame, fear, hypocrisy, tragedy, and abuse.  I need to write these stories down.  I’ve told them… many times… to many friends and therapists.  I don’t think I’ve ever told them to myself… so I’m going to make a promise to myself to start telling myself these stories in an effort to get to know myself through them.  They are ugly stories, but they are necessary truths that I must embrace.


The Sentimental Drunk

Every day, it gets easier for me to call things like they are.  I really only see my mom these days when there’s a birthday or a holiday involved.  Lots of people are around to keep things traditional and wonderful and we appear from the outside to be as close as ever.  My family has always been all about appearances.  It took me years of therapy to realize this and I’m still learning about the depth of denial and vanity that exists in our family.  But, it is what it is.  I have learned, for the most part, to love my parents for who they are and I choose regularly to remind myself of their good traits.  I do the best I can to keep those forefront in my mind and to be thankful for ways in which they help when they are here.  I know that no parent is a perfect parent.

With that said, let’s get to the truth of the here and now.  I worked hard in therapy to forgive my parents for many things.  At one point when I was exploring why they are still able to have such an impact on my emotions on a semi-regular basis, we discussed that this is not a situation in which I have to muster forgiveness for something that happened years ago and the effects fade (for lack of a better term) or at least improve over a period of time.  It isn’t something I can exactly “put behind me” when “it” is a series of behaviors that still happen on a very regular basis.  As in, every time I see them.  On the rare occasion that my mother is able to visit on her own, it is maybe once a year that she stays for more than 24 hours; she cannot leave my dad for more than that.  During those times, and on the occasional evening phone call when my dad is out of the country, I feel like I have a mom again.  She listens, she responds, and that “mother” voice that offers unparalleled comfort, is alive and well.  If my dad is in the house, even if in a different room, her voice is that of a distant and removed mother.  She doesn’t listen, she hardly responds, and if it is, it is not a response that she would typically offer, but instead one that my dad would approve of overhearing.  It truly is sickening.  It’s heartbreaking for those who hear about this dynamic for the first time… everyone has sympathy and wants to talk about how “wrong” and “abnormal” this is, but then we always finalize the thought process with the age-old understanding that every family has its dysfunction.  I realize this.  And, this happens to be my family’s (ha! one of them!) and it so happens this is the one of them that is particularly affecting me lately.

I could really use a mother right now.  This morning, my mom took care of my little one while my husband and I slept in.  That was very kind!  I got hope and went down to see what kind of schedule they were on in hopes that just maybe, they’d be willing to stay for a full 24 hours and let my husband and I have lunch together, outside of the house.  I, for some reason, am still a little under the impression that if we had more alone time, things could be better – even now.  I was about 90% sure that my dad would be ready to leave as soon as he could – but there’s always that psychotic hope in me that they’d be able to chill out for an hour or two more.  I didn’t even have a chance to ask if they’d be okay with this because after about 3 minutes of sitting on the couch with my mom, my dad said, “So, are you ready to go, hon?”  And, there it was.  It didn’t surprise me at all, but it still stirred up some anger and disappointment.  I didn’t bother asking anyway, because, I’ve done that before and it almost always makes it worse.  My dad went to pack the car, and my mom and I had about 2 minutes of bonding time.  Here’s how it went:

“Your eye looks swollen honey.”

“Well, I’m getting old (half joking)… it’s just bags.”

“No, they look bloodshot…”  This was followed by a look of concern.

“Yeah, they always look like that in the mornings lately.  I’m tired.”

Here, I got the mom stare… the inkling of engagement and concern.  I’ve learned not to latch on to this, but my tears apparently haven’t learned that kind of self control yet.  Because, as soon as she looked me in the eye and said, “Are you okay?”  I couldn’t lie without them falling out!

“I’m okay.”  Not sure why I can never leave it at that, tears or not.  I tried to think of a way to sum up my life for her in the 45 seconds left of our bonding time.  So, I just said,  “I’m stuck; but I’m okay.”

And, my favorite part is next:

The concerned, sad look came over her and she said, “Oh, honey.  We’ll have some alone time in a couple of weeks where no one can interrupt us.”

Now, let’s talk about how many times I’ve heard that promise.  There was absolutely no reason we couldn’t have had some uninterrupted mother-daughter time right then.  No logical reason, anyway.  But, my dad was tired and ready to go and that’s all that ever matters.   I may have already posted about this once, but about 10 years ago my mom wrote me and my siblings a letter that very clearly laid out the emotional map for our lives.  She said a bunch of things about how wonderful and loving my dad is, about how much he had done for her, and then, proclaimed from the codependent hilltops (I am not exaggerating here), “…so I hope that you can understand that if given a choice in life between you and your dad, I will always choose your dad.”  This is not word for word because I don’t think it’s in my best interest to actually dig the letter out (I’m not sure why I haven’t burned it by now), but this is what it said.  I didn’t believe it either at first.  What mother would ever say that to their child, even if she had the thought?  What mother would feel like she had to choose between her husband (the father her children) and her children?  If a woman feels that that is a choices she has to make… something is VERY wrong.  Tragically wrong.  Well, welcome to my life.  This is how my mother lives hers.  It isn’t as if she had a moment of insanity and didn’t mean it how it came across.  It was clearly well thought out, intentional, and prophetic.  What is still amazing to me is that I’d pretty much been watching the transition from her “choosing” us and “choosing” him for years, I just didn’t think it could be a conscious one.  Up until that point, I’d started to really see my mother submit to my dad in ways that went against her basic self-worth.  My mother used to be a strong and independent person.  She used to do what she had to do to make things happen for her children.  I saw her stick up for us and for herself many times throughout my childhood.  I watched her continue her education amidst teaching my dad that just because she was far surpassing his, this did not mean that she was going to leave him in the dust.  The last true moment I can remember of my mom talking about her fight to stand up for what she believed with my dad was when she got her doctorate degree and he was having a moment where he felt the need to ask “Why is this so important to you?”  My mom explained to me that my dad was insecure in this area of his life, but that she was not going to let that hold her back or stop her from pursuing her ultimate dream of obtaining that degree.  I could not have been more proud of her.  After a series of events, however, all of that changed.  Every year, I see less and less of that strong woman my mother used to be.  All my sister and I see now is someone who has almost no individuality and certainly no strength left to hold my dad accountable for his own issues.  Instead, she takes his on.  She chooses to sympathize and explain away his alcoholism, his selfishness, and his denial (which is the cause of it all).  It truly does not matter how hurtful this behavior is, because in her mind, my dad is the most selfless, loving, sensitive man she’s ever known.  So much of my anger is towards my dad, and I suppose at least 2/3 of it can be attributed to the resentment that has built up over time for the fact that he stole my mother from us.

Last night, I threw a party for my little guy’s birthday.  After everyone left and we were cleaning up, my dad broke into his fairly regular routine of sitting back and reflecting on how proud he is of his children and how happy he is about, well, pretty much everything.  But, it usually centers these days around how proud he is of his children.  This is a very strange and confusing thing for me.  Up until last night, I guess I’ve been thankful for these moments.  Regardless of the fact that he’s drunk as hell every time he has them, I generally welcome the compliments that come my way.  My dad and I are a lot alike and I like to think I got most of his good traits (sigh).  He also has a strange distrust and underlying frustration and anger towards me because as far gone as he is in the denial department, I think he senses that I can see right through him and it makes him nervous.  Perhaps that is why he can particularly never relax when I’m around.  I can’t relax when he’s around either, so we’re even, I guess.  Last night, he called me over to him for a tearful hug and it felt more like a routine than it has any other time.  I went through the motions: hug him, let him hug me tighter, hug him tighter back, let him cry and tell me how wonderful I am.  For some reason this time I asked him what was wrong (ha!) and he said, “I’m just happy!  Nothing’s wrong,  I’m crying because I’m just so happy.  I love watching you and your brother and sister living your lives and being such wonderful, happy people.  You know how wonderful you are, Karen?  I’m so proud of you!”  He tried to lock eyes with me this time and get me to enter this drunk, happy world with him, and instead, I just disengaged and told him, “Thank you, dad.”  I continued cleaning, he didn’t miss a beat.  In his mind, we’d just shared a father/daughter bonding moment.  He felt even better and even more accomplished as a father.  I’m not saying he never did anything for me – I know he worked his ass off so I could have anything I wanted as a kid… but those were just things.  I’d much rather still have time with my mother today, perhaps some detox for him?  Perhaps some compliments instead of insults when he isn’t drunk?  Perhaps some anti-anxiety meds for him?  Sigh.

I think this most recent visit from “The Sentimental Drunk” angered me because he felt so proud in that moment – through that lens of denial the alcohol gives him – that allows him to sit back and pat himself on the back and feel like he’s accomplished as a dad.  Last night, I really felt like telling him that he could thank my therapists for my wonderfulness.  I am finally realizing just how fabulous I am.  So, when my dad asked me how I liked the flowers on my table and I replied, “They are very pretty, Dad…. kind of like me… ya know?  I’m just sayin’…”  He turned to my brother and said, “See what I mean?  That kind of confidence you all have makes me so proud.”  Ha!  It actually made me laugh out loud that he thinks he can take credit for that.  It actually makes me want to tell him that he’ll need to write me a check for about 10,000 dollars, which is probably low-balling it for how much all my therapy and trips to the hospital have costs before he can take even partial credit for it.

Confidence is something that I’ve only known in the last couple of years.  I may not sound like it now, but I have more of it now than I ever have.  That is why I am so lonely lately.  I finally have boundaries and walls built around me that I never had before.  I’m finally protecting myself.  And, I know these are healthy and necessary walls.  I have even returned to the gym and am getting physically stronger as well.  Man, does it feel good to take a boxing or weight lifting class!  I think it was the missing element for quite some time!!  Also, I have this blog that allows me to lay it all out there and feel accepted and understood in a small way!  I know I don’t have many followers, but every comment and every “read” validates and excites me!  And, that is something!  The point of this blog was to do just that!  I’m currently not in therapy, so getting all of this out of me is important.  I’m proud of myself for finding a way to do it.  And, it is working.  So, if you are reading I can’t thank you enough!  Even if you don’t leave a comment, it really encourages me just to know that people are popping in and out from time to time.

Every one of these things gives me strength.  Ya know, I am wonderful, Dad.  I’ve worked my ass off to be this wonderful.  🙂


It is love that builds faith… not the other way around.

I’m not religious.  At all.  My husband says that I don’t believe in God.  Sometimes I don’t think I do – but I can’t look at my son without the belief that his presence is anything less than a miracle.  The moment of childbirth solidified my belief in a higher power.  I do believe… just not in the traditional, Southern way that I was encouraged to.

I was raised in a church.  I was baptized, went through all the ceremonies of First Communion, Confirmation… all that.  And then I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted.  So I followed my sister to her church.  We were both vulnerable and passionate teenagers.  We loved our friends and having fun… we shared confusions and frustrations that we didn’t know how to verbalize.  We were “normal.”  We were as normal as two loving, spirited, vulnerable teenagers living in the South could be… so it was a perfect time to stumble across a church that would attempt to transform us into little Christian soldiers.  For awhile we were both hooked… to the point that I remember actually believing that because my parents didn’t approve of our attending the church, this meant that they were destined for the fiery depths of hell.  And all the pastors could tell me was that “not everyone is destined for the promise land.”   While I recovered pretty nicely from this temporary insanity in college, it changed my sister’s life forever.  She hasn’t been the same since.  We stopped going to that church right around the time we left for college.

We both left for college determined not to let the separation from our newfound baptism (that church) shake our faith.  I entered college as a Bible thumping, glorified Christian ready to take on all the sins that awaited me with a solid, “No.”  I left wondering if God existed at all… and believing if nothing else, that if he did exist, the last place he was to be found was inside a church/mosque/temple.  I don’t believe in Christianity.  I am not a Christian.  Calm down now… I promise you it’s okay.  I always feel so defiant and rebellious still when I “admit” to that.  It horrifies my husband.  It horrifies my sister.  My sister changed forever when she entered that crazy church – she is as brainwashed today as she ever was.  She once told me that the reason I was depressed was because I had a “hole in my heart where God belonged.”  She actually said that to me.  It was a strange moment in our history as sisters.  She felt so bad for me… and in a very different way I felt so bad for her.  We will never understand each other, and for the most part we’ve stopped trying.  I am sure that my way of life disappoints and confuses her much the way hers disappoints and confuses me.  I am sad for her, and I’m sure she is sad for me.

It’s an interesting study.  We were raised in the same house – and while I cannot say that my parents didn’t sacrifice for us or love us – I can say that we experienced the same level of hypocrisy and contradiction in our upbringing.  My parents tried, but not as hard as they could’ve.  Maybe that isn’t fair.  Their generation didn’t encourage self-reflection…rather I guess it was more about where and how they were raised in their own houses and less to do with the time they were coming of age… which would’ve been the 60s and therefore they should truly have no excuse for not having explored themselves and their limitations a bit more.  Regardless, as loving as they were – they weren’t and they still aren’t whole people.  They think that they complete one another – but truly I believe that they have grown to fill a space in each other that each of them gave up on in themselves.  My dad has been a functioning alcoholic for as long as I can remember.  My mom, although highly educated, never has been able to separate herself from the traditional “wife” role her Southern Baptist upbringing taught.  Although I did watch her rise against it in protest many times throughout my life, and she’d deny it and be utterly offended if I were ever to tell her, but my opinion is that she ultimately settled in defeat.  She decided, almost overnight, that her life would be less challenging if she stopped fighting and instead, allowed herself to fall second to my dad.  I am sure it was gradual, but sometime I am sure I will post a blog about the night I think she made this decision.  For now… back to religion.

Everyone in my life is full of contradictions.  As am I.  Maybe it’s unfair for me to talk about my mom giving up on herself because sometimes I feel like I am in the process of giving up on myself… at the very same time that I feel more empowered and strengthened than I ever have… I still can’t gather the strength to accept that I have changed and that my marriage hasn’t changed with me.  It isn’t my husband’s fault that we are unhappy.  He hasn’t changed.  It’s me who’s gone through an enormous shift – and while I’ll tell anyone who asks that I’ve become stronger and less insecure and aware of healthy boundaries… maybe the truth is that I’ve just gotten very good at telling myself that I don’t have to settle for what I’m settling for, even as I settle for it.  I know I’m not free of hypocrisy.  That’s my point.  But at least, I know it.  At least I own it.  This is something that many people do not even recognize in themselves.  I worked damn hard in therapy to get to this place where I do recognize it.

My sister goes to church nearly every Sunday… and between her and her husband they also each attend another church function at least once during every week.  She has always looked down on the rest of us in the family because we don’t share her “passion for Christ.”  I am sure that her heart genuinely aches when she imagines, through her religious goggles, that we aren’t destined for eternal happiness in Heaven as she and all her fellow church going Christian friends and family are.  She doesn’t know that I’m not even a Christian.  She’s fully aware that I don’t subscribe to the ways of any church.  A couple years ago I told her I didn’t believe in missionary work.  She nearly lost her lunch.  I explained that it’s not the “doing good for others” part that I don’t agree with, but the “doing good so that you’ll think Jesus is your savior” part that I cannot fundamentally support.  I believe in helping others because we should want to be helped if we were in need.  I believe that our desire and at times our need to help one another is fundamentally human.  In fact, it’s not just a human trait… we are animals, and just as most living things do, we are generally programmed to help and protect one another from harm.  I don’t believe that it is fair or genuine to help someone under the pretense that by helping them, they should then believe in the same thing that you do.  This steals the love out of the very deed you boast about to your fellow church goers.   I only pick on my sister because I have a window into her world.  I am therefore exposed to this religious vision of the world that she has.  It is draped throughout every area of her life.  Her blog makes me sick to my stomach… many times.  While I agree that I should let her live as she lives – it is painful to watch and listen to her put her all into something that doesn’t even bring her genuine joy.  All it brings is guilt.  Constant guilt – her blogs are filled with “I should’ve… I should…” and praising of those people in her life that agree with her and support her religious beliefs and her overall struggle to find God and Jesus in everything… right down to the Easter egg hunt that she put together for her very small children…she’s all about keeping Christ in everything.  While she’s busy finding Christ in everything, she’s worrying about how inadequate she is in every way – as a mother, as a wife, as a servant to God.  She is constantly apologizing and explaining and talking about how unsupported she feels and all at the same time she’s blogging about how thankful she is… wait… so am I!  So who is to say that we are so different?  I just went to therapy, instead of church.  I recognize this.  What I rejected about religion as I went through my journey, was the guilt it encouraged in me.  I grew up with so much guilt it took me years to find myself in all the layers that were so neatly put together over my spirit throughout years and years of being told just how “wrong” I was about pretty much every thought I had.  I’m not sure my sister’s experiences were the exact same as mine were – but they weren’t far off.  We were raised by a perfectionist whose pride caused immense pain and confusion in our hearts.  He loved us, but we were never  doing what we should.  If anyone did what she should, it was my sister.  Until she found that church.  My parents hate that church – ironically for much of the same reasons that I do.

I go to church, as I did this morning, with my husband from time to time, to show support to him… although he knows that I do not believe as he does.  When we met we were on the same page with religion.  We understood each other.  We shared the general believe that God didn’t belong in a church – that Christianity was just one of so many religions that claimed to be “the way, truth, light” when ultimately all they were doing was creating war against one another.  He changed a few years ago when his life took a devastating turn and he experienced something that few will ever know, including myself.  It’s not to be shared now, but I understand his turn toward religion, because it was the only way that he could make sense out of what happened to him.  And that’s okay.  Maybe that’s what the undertone of my sister’s search is as well.  And that’s okay.  It just doesn’t make logical sense – I wish it did.  But it just doesn’t.

This morning, and every morning that I sit in church I am utterly disturbed by the militant and mindless worship.  Repeating a creed while raising your hands in the air… is different than bowing towards a temple and repeating a different creed… how exactly?  Telling your “followers” that they are right and others are wrong… in the same breath that you tell them to have hearts filled with love… is teaching love… how exactly?  One thing the priest said this morning was true.  He said, “For it is love that builds faith, and not the other way around.”  This is true.  If I felt that what was behind this Christian movement was more about love and less about faith and whose is stronger/louder/more correct, then perhaps I’d sympathize with it a little more.  I’d understand and even sympathize with my sister a little more.  But the underlying message that she and all other religions teach is that it is faith that builds love… and only the “right” faith leads to “true” love.   That’s why my sister has built a protective wall between us… because my lack of what she calls “faith” contradicts her own, and the church teaches her that those who do not walk in the kind of love that they seek, will only lead them astray.  It’s a great analogy they use with the flock of sheep… genius, really… like everything else that’s brought the Christian empire where it is today.   It takes a certain genius to gain power and maintain it for so long.  They even change the sacred “word of God” every couple years by coming up with a new “version” of the Bible that helps translate their message through each and every era we’ve experienced as a culture… and few question it.  It’s okay to have doubts… God can help you with that.  But to question the word of God… that’s blasphemy.  It’s faith that she thinks she has.  All that she is truly searching for is the kind of love that we were never really shown.  The kind of love that comes naturally at the start of life… when a person who has experienced some serious radical self-love and acceptance can feel.  It’s the kind of love that I feel for my son.  The kind of love that is unparalleled and unyielding, selfless but with a healthy dose of selfishness too – because the only way you can truly love someone is to love yourself.  It’s that self love that religion frowns upon.  Because if taught to love ourselves with all our faults… then what would our faith be?  What good would that do the church?  If people don’t feel guilty all the time, they don’t give money, they don’t gather and worship, they don’t feed the insatiable need for power that every religion from the beginning of time has held.

So, that’s it.  Another great divide between my husband and I.  That’s not really why I blogged about it… I blogged about it because it’s been heavy on my mind.  Marriage is an offspring of religion… and I am still studying how and why I am so scared to imagine that it is as free of logic as religion itself.  Some things are so ingrained in us that even years of acknowledgement can’t cure our denial.  Maybe I’m not really that different from my own mother, after all.