keep living

//

i used to think i knew what happened when people died. i comforted myself with images of heaven, of a better place, of no more crying and no more pain. the reality is i don’t know what really happens when someone dies. i can guess, but i don’t really know. the old adages don’t bring any comfort anymore. truth is brutal to swallow.

i used to think i had experienced the worst traumas i ever would. i thought i had seen enough of my share. childhood sexual abuse, the divorce of my parents, acquaintance rape in highschool, clergy abuse in highschool and college, being asked to leave a church due to said clergy abuse while they encircled the hurting pastor and his family, the stillbirth of my second child, the miscarriage of my fourth child, losing the scaffolding of the christian faith and christian god that I had built and based my entire life upon…and then the sudden disappearance of my husband and his suicide eighteen days later.

i am sitting here tonight, six and a half months later, still trying to figure out how my life turned into this. supposedly there comes a point where you figure out how to stop asking the questions, how to stop trying to figure out what the hell happened, how to keep the internal tsunami at bay that still desperately wants to save him.

i cannot imagine another man in my life, although i want it and parts of me feel guilty for wanting it now. maybe i want it this soon because of how it all ended. but the reality is that i am not a loner. i don’t do life well without close friends and without a man i love who also loves me back. there is so fucking much i want and need to be different from here on out, but before i nail down all those specifics i just want another human being to look me in the eyes and tell me they see me and that they believe i’m going to make it up and out and away from this ground zero. i want to believe that i can trust again, that i won’t let fear dictate my life from here on out because of all the staggering losses.

there have been days i have wanted to box it all up and call it quits, but really that is not an option i want deep down inside, nor is it an option i would ever pursue. giving up, throwing in the towel, no fucking way. feeling hope again? i sure as hell hope so. feeling wanted again? yes, please. i didn’t die when he left our house quietly one sunday morning. i didn’t die when he pulled the trigger to end his own life. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i didn’t die. i am alive. i am here. i get to be here. my life is no small thing. i don’t take my own life lightly, i don’t hold it carelessly. i’m here and i want to live. i want to keep living. and i will as best i can.

i wonder sometimes what becoming a widow suddenly and traumatically is supposed to look like and feel like. i wonder if i’m anywhere within normal or if i’m just totally screwed up and can’t even tell. i just don’t know. does anybody really? i know it’s not all black, there is still color. it’s not all tears, there is still laughter. it’s not all sadness, there is still beauty and enjoyment to be found. if you had asked me a year ago what i thought life without him would be like i never would’ve guessed right. it would’ve been too far outside my lived experience. but I can tell you now. it’s hell and it’s not hell, it’s a nightmare and yet it’s not, it’s horrific and maddening, and yet on some days it’s mostly just exhausting and confusing. and every now and then some normalcy seeps in the cracks of this shattered life and you see flickers of light that tell you that you are still very much alive, and life is still very much worth breathing for.

{zt}

women beyond belief podcast

Pic credit: Women Beyond Belief website

//

Deconversion has been such an ugly beast of an experience for me. I never chose this place for myself, and if I had a magic wand I would wave it and make a good and loving God real. Unfortunately there is no magic wand, and there is no good and loving being in the sky to entrust my life to. I’m who I must entrust my life to. I’m slowly learning to trust myself, but all the decades of indoctrination of how bad I was apart from God really did a number on me. I’m having to unlearn so much about myself and the world, and relearn who I really am, who I have actually always really been separate and apart from anyone else.

Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be interviewed for my second podcast appearance. I’m so excited about this new podcast for women and about women who have deconverted. There is such a need to hear the voices of more women in this post-theist community. Wendy Marsman began the Women Beyond Belief podcast just this month. I’m honored to know her online, to be a small part of this project, and am so grateful she is using her knowledge, experiences, and expertise to carve out a very much needed space for women to speak up and be heard. Thank you again Wendy for giving me this opportunity. I was so encouraged by the process and the interview, it was incredibly validating and meaningful beyond any words I can come up with. Truly an honor.

{zt}

grief as water

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Grief is ever-changing like the moving water in a river or ocean, never stagnant or completely still. There is always something happening, something stirring under the surface or above, or both. Sometimes grief is a like a river in how it winds and twists and turns. Sometimes grief is like an ocean with its strong currents, undertows, and merciless waves coming again and again and again. Sometimes grief is like a ferocious hurricane over the waters, gathering force and spinning out of control, bent on destruction of some sort or another, affecting whatever is in its path. Sometimes grief is like the constant drip drip drip of a leaky faucet, always there and annoying in an innocent dutiful naive manner. Sometimes grief is like a rainstorm on a tin roof that sings a comforting song with its melody.

I hate grief. And yet. It is cleansing and clarifying, and altogether terrible and sweet and relentess, all rolled up into a world of its own. Like water can be, at times it is comforting and warm; but it can also be jarring and dangerous, even life-threatening. It is a world I never feel I belong in, yet when I visit I no longer feel a stranger there, I feel like it is a place I have been before and know well, yet wish I never had to visit again. And yet. I often feel connected in ways in the throes of grief that somehow feel solid, that allow me to feel close to what and who I have lost. That closeness seems at times to fade or go in and out of focus, like a tether to that long lost loved one, or a camera that just cannot seem to find its sweet focus spot anymore, the connection changes as the grief changes. Some days it is undeniably strong and unavoidable like the pain of a fresh burn; others it is a faded other-world-ness dream of a life lived in an alternate space, a space that often seems just out of reach if I try to touch it. Grief crashes, drowns, tricks, surprises, contorts, burns and cracks, and yet it also envelopes, hugs, clears, strengthens, and straightens. Grief is ever-changing.

//

No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.

{Heraclitus}

//

It is Good Friday, my third one since I knew there was no real personal Jesus or God in the sky watching over me or in my heart as close as my own breath. I wonder if some people think I am no longer a Christian because life just didn’t work out how I wanted, because my baby died, because people were so cruel to me, but no, it isn’t those things at all. It is because noone showed up. It is because of the silence and the lack, the nothingness, the non-existent. The empty space unfilled by a God who was begged to sit down and pull up a chair. I was met by noone but myself in that most deepest of places, then I knew.

I am angry today. I am crushed. I am gutted. None of it is true. Why am I fighting this dead horse that has been beaten to death with no life left in it? This is the strange odd way of grief. It has swooped in and stolen my breath away again. I am choking on my own silence, I find words hard to speak, hard to write, hard to find. The grief is burning today, it is flooding, and I am screaming silent screams as I thrash to find a limb to grab ahold of in this terrible awful place. Will I ever get over this loss of God? How long will I grieve Him? How does one let go of something that let go of you, of someone such as He? I wonder if I am slowly losing my mind sometimes, the grief is a bit maddening at times. I don’t want to be here, I want to be over this, over him, beyond all of it, in the peace and freedom that I have only tasted drops of. I don’t know where to turn, who to say anything to, isn’t everyone tired of hearing this? I will survive these tortourous waves, I will not be pulled under, I will keep fighting for myself and my life, there is much to live for, I know this, I deeply know this. But today is not a good day, this good friday, and yet, I am still here, and that in and of itself is a very good, a beautiful thing. I am where I am. I feel what I feel. Even now I fight internally to allow myself to just be where I am. To know what I know. To have lost what I have lost. Grief is allowed. It is necessary.

{zt}

**If you read this will you find a way in the big crazy world we live in to let me know? Just a very small hello across the cyber-lands? I need to know someone out there hears me and is just simply there, in my corner, cheering me on. Anyone there?

 

 

everyone’s agnostic podcast interview

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Having the opportunity to go on the Everyone’s Agnostic Podcast a few months ago was incredibly significant for me. I’m not sure of all the reasons I’ve waited to officially share the interview here on my blog. I was nervous as hell doing it, every word I said took calculated effort, as well as effort expended to withhold what I chose not to say or had no time to say. It was a strangely liberating experience.

The length of silencing I’ve experienced since I was 21 is a huge factor. Silencing is so powerful, like a literal vice around my throat and a hand covering my mouth. I was silenced and I silenced myself. The wounding ran so deep, canyons winding in deep crevices in my soul. The healing necessary to access those interior spaces has to reach down deep. Healing takes such a long time and is so multi-layered.

I’m so grateful to have been given the space to speak and tell big pieces of my story. Thank you Bob & Cass from the deepest places of my heart, I’m more grateful than I’m able to express. Thank you for allowing my voice to be heard, for your compassion, and most of all for your acceptance.

If you listen, thank you, if you share it, thank you even more, because if my story can help raise awareness and encourage those touched by clergy abuse of power, clergy sexual abuse, stillbirth, or losing God through deconstruction away from Christianity then there is more purpose brought out of the suffering.

The Everyone’s Agnostic Podcast Interview can be found in several places, as well as on itunes, stitcher etc:

 

truth in the corners

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grieving without god

it’s a new kind of horrible

another world of cognitive dissonance to find my way through

i used to tell myself i would see them again

get to know them, be reunited, that the ache would one day be resolved

there is no day down the road that will fix things, no pie in the sky, no god to make it all better in the end

coming to terms with this new kind of grief is its own flavor of cruel

what do i comfort myself with now?

no platitudes suffice

there is no pretty bow to wrap it all up with and sit it up on a shelf to wait for in the end

grief is so much messier now

so much the more incomplete, with missing parts and lost pieces

all the unravelled edges can’t be sewn back together again

there is much that has to be left hanging, left undone, left un-figured-out

what now?

how does one come to terms with the comfort becoming empty, tattered, and torn?

that the thing which was the healing balm, that which held it all together, is simply gone with no coming back?

now the glue isn’t holding anymore, it wasn’t ever really glue to begin with

i will never see my child again

i will never hold her again, never get to know her, never hear her laughter or see the twinkle in her eyes

she is really and actually simply and complicated-ly gone, just gone, out of my grasp forever, and there is no bandage for it, nothing is good enough, nothing works

and her too, the one gone even sooner that i never held or laid eyes on

what does one do with this ugly kind of grief, the kind my former theology shielded me from

even in the grief before i knew something was off about the comfort, it felt like pseudo-comfort even then, now i can no longer lie to my heart, to the grief

it’s time for truth-telling in the farthest darkest corners of myself

no more hiding

my godless manifesto

“I’m in a field

A war zone

Catastrophe of the soul

A spiritual apocalypse

Bodies everywhere

Strewn mercilessly

Devastation as far as the eye can see

A wasteland of religion

But I’m alive

I run back and forth between bodies

Is there anyone still pulsing with life?

Will I find him here?

I turn bodies over one by one

Frantic gaze cutting across their lifeless expressions

I know some of these lines, these eyes, mouths and noses.

Air knocked viciously from my chest as though I fled unknowingly into an invisible wall

How can this all be?

How did it all come to be?

How did I get here?

How did it come to this?

It’s too much to take in

I steel my will and steady my breathing

I squeeze my eyes to keep the tears at bay

There is no time to grieve now

I must keep looking from one body to the next

None of the faces are the one I’m looking for

Where has he gone?

Where does he lay dying?

So much has died around me

So many good things

Helpful things

Comforting things

Double-edged things

Masqueraded things

Hidden things

Ugly yet seemingly beautiful things

Death envelopes me on every side”

{written by yours truly in 2014}

::

I didn’t lose my religion, I didn’t misplace God, I didn’t walk away, I didn’t even run away. This is not where I wanted to end up, nor where I tried to end up. I was hurled here not of my own volition. Like a warzone where a bomb went off and I wake up in the aftermath, unsure of where I am and how in the heck I ever got here in the first place. But truth was chosen. I have always been a truth seeker, always unsatiated with trite and neatly packaged hollow answers. Coming to grips with the reality that there was no higher being coming to rescue me. The salvation I had been taught all my life and clung to, built my life around, none of it was coming true. Because it wasn’t truth to begin with. No one was waiting for me, no one was coming for me, no one was going to make it all right in the end. No one but me. Me.

People seem to think people always choose unbelief. I don’t believe this about unbelief. I certainly didn’t choose it, it came for me. Unbelief is what was waiting for me. Unbelief took my hand, lifted my head, and said there is another way underneath all the lies, all the manipulated comfort, all the age old traditions we bury ourselves in because we are afraid, just afraid down to the bone; and we see no other alternative to be and feel okay in a very confusing world other than to blindly accept and never question below the surface. Speaking of bones, it is in mine to question. I ask what others don’t want to ask. I say what others don’t want to give voice to. I lose friends, I don’t sugarcoat my truth as I see it.

No longer having God has been devastating. Peace is coming slowly. Having my faith completely fall apart has been a shattering not dissimilar to a war torn country. The fallout, it is still falling, still settling, pieces still yet to hit the ground. I am not out, as they say. I feel like an imposter around most of the people in my world. Most probably view me as a disenfranchised christian who got sick of church or who is blaming all her problems on God and imperfect people in the church. Not true, absolutely not true. People often think I just haven’t wrestled with the truth enough, that I have settled for easy answers to assuage my pain. In fact, the complete opposite is true. I am where I am today because I didn’t stop wrestling, I didn’t accept settling, I pushed through the pain because to not do so would have been more painful in the long run, and I knew that instinctively.

Many in the atheist or agnostic communities at large may think the peace ought to be instantaneous. Those who never claimed Christianity as their lifeblood can’t possibly know what it is to learn to breathe something else when the source is yanked away from them, the oxygen gone. The sky fell. The floor underneath my feet gave way. The scaffolding collapsed. I went under. To say it has been heartbreaking is an understatement on a massive scale. Brutal. Beyond brutal. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to make it through the torment, and felt at numerous times it may just simply be best to take my own life and forget it all, because the air in my lungs was almost completely and entirely gone. I was suffocating on the christian faith, it was literally killing me on the inside, yet as it was taken from me I also had to come to a place of releasing and accepting, then I felt as though I wouldn’t survive the deconstruction of it all. Having faith almost killed me, and coming to terms with no longer having faith almost killed me. Multiple experiences with clergy and their churches exacerbated the deconversion, as well as personal trauma and the church’s response, or lack thereof, but what it all really came down to was the absolute silence of God when the metaphorical room had been emptied of all but he and I. He wasn’t answering me or responding to me because ultimately he was never really there in the first place. It hinged on relationship for me, and then all the holes in the doctrine I had been explaining away all my life simply became accessories to the loss.

I am coming up for air now, I have found a new oxygen to breathe. I no longer am bleeding out, the pain coming from every pore like being poked with a million needles simultaneously. I have found a new source of life and it is slowly flowing into every part of me, filling me up. Me. Myself. Beauty. Love. Truth. Integrity. Compassion. Relationship. Life. Peace is slowly arriving and the slow death of God is almost complete, thank god, literally, okay maybe not literally, but you get the drift. Peace feels so good. I can breathe deep now. I look forward to the day I can fully be me with everyone in my life. It is heading that direction, regardless of the additional fallout, because I am a truth teller and a truth seeker, it’s in my bones and in my blood, I can be no other way.

{zt}

:: You can hear more of my overall story from last month on the Everyone’s Agnostic Podcast interview ::

limbo

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//

standing on the edge of a precipice

looking all around me, trying to find my way

everything looks different again

this is another kind of hard

another kind of pain

a pain laced with freedom in its edges

it feels as though an unknown reality is beckoning me forward

telling me this is the way finally

the wall I was bearing against but yet it was always too high to climb

it was because it was unclimb-able no matter how hard I tried

all the beating, black and blue from all the trying

i finally saw the insanity of it all

the dust is beginning to settle

the fog is starting to dissipate

the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer and closer

i’m no longer on the opposite end of it all desperately seeking

now i’m at the end of the tunnel

i’ve left everything i once knew

or i found myself simply gone from it, like a curtain lifted at the end of a play

my reality became fiction

caught in the crossfire

here but not there

no longer standing

i jumped because i had no choice

i caught myself

now suspended

hanging on with all i have

waiting for the fingers to tire of their grip

to become just actually unable to keep holding on any longer

i am hanging here

but what is underneath me?

when i fall, because I will, what will there be?

i know i don’t belong where i have just come out of,

yet i don’t know what the darkness around me holds for me

what is there, who is there, what will it be like?

better, worse, different, all the above

will i survive the falling, the letting go

this in-between place of dangling between two lives

the no of i will not live there anymore

and the no i cannot yet go anywhere else place

the i know this isn’t real

but i don’t know what is real beyond here

the i know he isn’t real

but i don’t know who or what is

this experiential angst of a being caught between death and life

hanging in the balance of terror and freedom

between doubts given credence and the just not knowing

like a rat out of its cage for the very first time

terrified of the unknown, longing for the comfort of the bondage

the horror of what was, the horror of what is to come

the trepidity and bewilderment of a life lived in chains

and the fear and dread of then and now and what is up ahead

frozen in midair, hanging on for dear life

living in oblivion

learning to exist in a space of nothingness

nowhere to go back to and nowhere to run

haunted by a life that is over and scared to death of a life yet to live

when i let go what will happen?