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.

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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?

 

 

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 ::

this thing called life

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I didn’t go outside the other day

Not even a glance at the sky or the sound of a bird

It’s that thing I like to leave unsaid

It stalks me, breathes down my neck

Makes the walls close in and the spaces get smaller and smaller

I don’t think I breathe as deeply on those days of hiding from the sun

Is there someone else I’m hiding from

Or is it that I don’t know how to exist out there anymore after everything changed

No-one knows me, strangers everywhere

A stranger in the mirror staring back at me

I don’t know who I am anymore

And yet sometimes I get glimpses

Some days I don’t avoid the sun or the sea or the birds

Some days I think I can face the world

Those days when the pain isn’t swallowing me whole and I can breathe a little slower

You know what I mean

Like a map whose roads all disappeared

I’m wandering through life trying to convince myself I know the way and that just around the next bend I will come to the clearing

Like a raging storm at sea when your boat sinks and leaves you to fend for yourself

I’m a child learning to walk all over again, except this time there’s no one guiding me, no rules to follow, no straight line to try and stay on, I am the compass now, there’s a new north

Like a mother whose child vanishes, he is simply gone, slipped away in the thin air, no trace of him left lingering

What left was never there, what was lost was never really found, what was gained was never really granted

Like the mirage in the desert, the oasis seems so real, yet the more desperate you become to really drink the water, to feel it on your lips and have it slide down your throat, you go after it, only to find it fades into the scorched earth and you land hard sideways on the scratchy sand, left scraped and bleeding on the unforgiving ground beneath you

This recovery from the land of trick mirrors, from the maze of head games and bitter riddles

I stumbled out alive and went into hiding

Maybe one day I can become me again

Maybe one day I can forgive myself, trust myself, give myself another chance at this thing called life.

I get to be here

 ​                                     ::

I wrote the following in May 2013, three years and four months ago.
                                     

                                      ::

“This song (Stay by Big Daddy Weave) has been speaking to me for months now, as I am sure it has many people who take a listen. For me, it speaks to me on the level of feeling so far away from God for so long now. People call this sort of season all different things, the dark night of the soul, a grand canyon experience, a desert time, a wilderness experience etc. I don’t know much these days but I do know that as much as my feelings may want to tell me differently, God has not left my side, He has not stopped working on my behalf intervening in my life and in the lives of those around me. I have felt like a runaway, like a child lost and afraid, but I cannot deny the truth that reaches deeper than the emotions that come crashing down: God is here. He may not be showing up in certain ways I have wanted him to, or speaking in ways I would have preferred, but he is here nonetheless. I have felt so faithless. Thank God that He will and is coming to find this runaway and bringing me back home again. The darkness lies to us, our feelings lie to us. Grief lies to us, and even happiness lies to us. God is the way, the truth, and the life, nothing else can fill those sovereign places. I am no theologian, I am no strong Christian. I have been wounded deeply, words don’t explain or suffice, but I cannot live the rest of my life angry with God or defined by my past hurts and failures. I don’t know how to hear God again like I used to, I don’t know how to change myself or my heart, but thankfully God knows where to find me, how to speak to me, and how to change me. So, I’m still here, still reaching out, still crying out, still hoping, and still trusting on some small level. I believe, help my unbelief. I know that I know that I know that He will.”

(me, 2013)


                                        ::

To say I’m at a radically different place now is the understatement of the century. It is staggering to read words written in that place where I was standing at that particular time. I cringe at the words, my breath catches in my throat, I begin to feel twinges of that old record of desperate searching playing over and over again. Somehow I survived about 7 years there in that place. That season had been going on at full force since 2007, when our second child was stillborn and I had a watershed moment with the one I clung onto as god, the one I had devoted my life to, hook-line-and-sinker. It was time for all the faith, all the years, all the service, all the prayers, all the reasons piled upon reasons….It all came to an abrupt crescendo. It was do or die. Show up or sit down. Speak or hang up the phone. Put your money where your mouth is. It was time for reality to come down and be real. I’m not talking about people or money or circumstances. I’m talking about one on one, me and god. God and I in the ring. On the phone, hand in hand walking together, however you want to view it, but he and I together, the unseen becoming seen no matter all the loose threads, no matter the questions. If he would just be in it with me, be present with me even if nothing else changed but the aloneness.

Here’s the thing. The reality. The truth. The real deal. The way it all came down. The end of the story. The rest of the conversation. He didn’t show up. He didn’t ever find me. He never came. He didn’t rescue me. He never broke the silence. It’s not that he didn’t change my circumstances or give me a vision, it’s that nothing happened. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. He was absent. Silent. Because he was never there to begin with.

I showed up to my own life

I found me

I came running to myself

I came to my own rescue. 

I did for myself what I never thought possible, what I never understood was conceivable became conceivable.

All the soul-stripping shame,

The slow drip of constant not-measuring-up-ness,

Now I’m running into my own arms.

And into the arms of those who really love me, the real me,

The me I lost track of as a child,

The one buried alive underneath all the rubble of the shoulds and musts and have-tos.

Now I understand this moment is really and truly it. This is where I am alive, not some random point in the future or some distant far off land where I will live forever. But now. Here and now. This is the real life, the real deal. This is no dress rehearsal. I don’t get to do it again down the road, there are no do-overs, no eternal wonderland within which all can be made right. 

Now. 
Now is the time. 

I get to be here, get to be alive. At such a time as this, for real. 

Here’s a favorite song of mine for you today, it has been a favorite since I first heard it years ago even in the midst of trying to wait for a god to show up and save the day. Even then I knew deep down on some level. “The Riddle“, by Five For Fighting. 

There was a man back in ’95

Whose heart ran out of summers

But before he died, I asked him

Wait, what’s the sense in life?Come over me, come over me

He said Son, why you got to sing that tune?
Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon

Let an angel swing and make you swoon

Then you will see, you will see

Then he said

Here’s a riddle for you
Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

Picked up my kid from school today
Did you learn anything causin’ the world today

You can’t live in a castle far away

Now talk to me, come talk to me

He said Dad, I’m big, but we’re smaller than small

In the scheme of things, well, we’re nothing at all

Still every mother’s child sings a lonely song

So play with me, come play with me

And, hey, dad
Here’s a riddle for you

Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

I said Son, for all I’ve told you

When you get right down to the

Reason for the world

Who am I?

There are secrets that we still have left to find
There have been mysteries from the beginning of time

There are answers we’re not wise enough to see

He said You looking for a clue

I love you free

The batter swings and the summer flies

As I look into my angel’s eyes

A song plays on while the moon is high over me

Something comes over me

I guess we’re big, and I guess we’re small

If you think about it, man, you know we got it all

‘Cause we’re all we got on this bouncing ball

And I love you free

I love you freely

Here’s a riddle for you 

Find the answer

There’s a reason for the world

You and I

>>Youtube Video of The Riddle <<

{words to a silent god ©2016}

I want 

I want you to exist, to be real, not a mirage in the desert for a soul dry and parched, thirsting to death
I want you to not have broken apart, like a mirror I threw my grief at and it shattered into sharp and ugly pieces, jagged and rough
I want to find the ground again, I lost it when you bled and died and faded away
I want you to give me back the years, those decades given in blind allegiance to serve a supposed king of hearts who was leading the way to life upon life
I want to rescue her, to reach back through time and jerk open her eyes, tell her not to swallow the blame and shame, to not go down that straight and narrow path
I want to find the truth that is there, has always been there, underneath all the words, all the rules, in her, at the center of it all
I want the fog to clear, for the world between worlds, the land in the middle, the discomfort of the liminality, that waiting space, I want it to dissipate for life to come alive
I want you back again, or for the first time, to see the light in your eyes, to recognize you again and not know you only as a stranger, the stranger that is me
{Words to a Silent God, c. 2016}

silent roar

Processed with VSCO with 7 preset

 

“fleeing the self
running from the life i thought i would have
chasing ghosts
drinking tea and wiping tears
throwing angry words to the wind
i don’t know me anymore
and now i will never know you

 

coughing up regrets
and choking on unforgiveness of the self
bitter towards a body that failed me and you
closing my eyes and listening to the sounds of a life stalled in its tracks
knowing the unknown will always haunt me
and the known will chase me in my dreams

 

ignoring the irreverent words offered up on a silver platter
they are meant to bring healing yet they only smash into my wounds
and make me feel even smaller and you even less real

 

i am running away from myself
i am running away from you
i cannot catch up with the life i was meant to live
yet i cannot stop trying to find my way back
i have fallen down the hole and everything is altered
my throat burns and my stomach churns
there is no turning back, no bypass or shortcut”

 

{me}

Here and now I am stuck between darkness and light. What I thought was light has become dark, and the darkness is becoming illuminated as I walk into it. What a place to be in, what a journey it has been. Words cannot carry the weight fully of the truth that weighs them down and curls them around themselves. What is coming up ahead at the next bend in the road, no one can ever know. Who I thought I could count on I cannot. The who-what-where-and why have all changed. Like chicken little the sky fell, it fell more than once.

Silent woman, silent peers, silent parents, silent friends, silent him, silent elders, silent child, another silent child, silent god. Silent me.

My words come in nose-burning, watery-eyed, throat-tightening sobs, in waves. I am dry and then it rains. Do I really even have something to say? Will I be taken seriously? Believed? Does what I have to say even matter? Yes, yes, and yes. Let the tears fall, let my nose burn, let my throat tighten. Here is my roar.

It’s been 23 years since then. 23 years for me to realize what really happened. 23 years to call it what it was, to call it what it is.

23 years since they said this. You can’t come back. Someone has to leave and they’ve been here longer and he is our pastor, so you have to leave. But hey, we are paying for eight counseling sessions for you and we wish you all the best, now leave, please, but let us pray for you before you go, and we really hope you will be okay. We feel so very sorry for you, and you really need help, but we can’t be the ones to help you because we have others who are more important than you to help. Go on now, troubled young woman. Leave. Let us get on with the Lord’s work, we don’t need women like you in our midst. You might rub off on us. And besides, didn’t you know it is really all your fault?

23 years of having the “A” on my forehead.
23 years of silence.
23 years of shame.
23 years of blame.
23 years of taking it all on.

I was 21 when it all hit the proverbial fan. What had been happening had been happening for several years prior. Building up to the watershed moment when it all came crashing down all around me, and the water rushed down a different path for us all, a path I never wanted to go down, but yet I was on a path at that present time I had never really wanted to go down anyway, so surely this couldn’t be worse, right?

The knock on the door. They knew. He had decided to spill the beans. Confess to the sin of his choosing versus what he had really done to me. Severed from a family, from a life, from a man I thought I loved. How would I ever really be okay again? Life felt over. The pills called to me, to take them, take them all and end this. It just needed to be ended because this was a nightmare that there was no waking from.

I believed the well-mannered lies, the shame-filled accusations, the dirty looks, the letters of well-intentioned yet empty advice for a girl gone supposedly bad, one who lost her way and couldn’t get what they thought she apparently wanted, her pastor. Oh please. What I wanted was trust, love, acceptance, attention. What do most high school girls want who are in a new town after her parents divorced and she is tired of an emotionally and verbally abusive boyfriend? Did I fall for it all hook, line, and sinker? Yes, I did. Did I pursue him? No I did not. Abuse of power and position. Clergy sexual abuse. Ugly terms for exponentially uglier truths. These words cannot carry their weight either, just a dim reflected shadow of the inescapable brutal truth. The wasteland of a life stomped down and out, no longer recognizable. Shredded, beat down to the bone.

Yet, life did go on somehow, some way, the way life often does as it flows forward onto everything in its path, determined to create anew. Changed denominations, changed towns. Ruined reputation. Past used against me time after time. The secrets had to stay secret. There was no way to air them out, to get away from them, except to stay quiet and move on. Years passed. Good things, beautiful things, wonderful things. Life felt like life again and not a prison sentence I was serving out.

Then tragedy struck and our second child was not alive anymore. It was as though the shores of my life split in two and crashed up against each other in a thunderous explosion that left everything shredded and in disarray, unrecognizable, broken beyond repair. Years of darkness and grief upon grief followed.

“the white was everywhere, sterile, as if everything was pure, untouchable, clean, crisp, to the point, yet understated, barely any colors, devoid of emotion, shhhh be quiet because noise and white don’t go together, no blood no screams, be quiet, be white, be colorless, be empty, feel empty. so i bled and she was pink and i screamed and color burst onto the scene and the air was electric with emotion and there was no more white anywhere anymore. she is just beyond my reach always, just beyond my voice, just beyond the edges of my days. in between the ordinary and the sacred, between the old and the new, between the past and the future, she is here yet she is not.”

 

{me}

Then tragedy struck again. Another one dead and this time we didn’t even get to hold her.

Then tragedy struck yet again. The slow death of god. He wasn’t who I had always believed him to be. I felt like I was living in a world of trick mirrors, like it was a big fairground of harsh lights, illusions, and exaggerated clown faces mocking me with angry laughter, all waiting to trick me again once I began to get used to things or know my way around a tiny bit. I became someone I didn’t recognize. I died a million tiny little deaths over and over again. will the bleeding ever stop?

“found
revealed
nurtured
loved
trusted
built my life around
dedicated
believed
integrated
but then…
the miracle didn’t happen
faith unraveled
prayers unanswered
screaming silence
born into death
devastated
manipulated
brutality
nothingness
darkness
bleeding revealed truth
stillborn jesus
yet you were never alive to begin with”

 

{me}

So here I am and I am finding my voice, the voice that has been a scream stuck in the back of my throat, in the back of my life, for so many long silent years. A silent roar will become a roar that is heard. I will be heard. I am being heard now. There is such joy in that.

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}

::::this post was originally a guest post shared HERE at The Roar Sessions::::

beauty is still beauty

image

people think i walked away from my faith.
that somehow i un-chose god.
there is nothing i have tried harder at in my life than chasing god,
than choosing him, over and over, and over again.
his place in my heart underguirded, surrounded, and encompassed everything, there was nothing untouched by what i once deemed as his presence.
the loss of god was not desired or wanted on any level.
it happened in waves,
day after day,
month after month,
silence upon silence
lie upon lie.
first a drop, then trickle, then stream. then waves turned crashing. almost drowned in the absence, the nothingness.
he wasn’t there to breathe anymore, as my lifeblood, my oxygen.
left to my own devices, it wasn’t a lack of faith that got me there.
it was an unwillingness to give up that turned everything inside out.
someday the wreckage will all be gone, the remnants of a drowning silence washed away on the shores of truth. like a picture drained of color, yet still is profoundly beautiful, even moreso. life is still here in me, it is just all different now. beauty is still beauty, even when the colors change. i’m going to be okay, more than okay. beauty can become even more beauty-filled when truth is fully embraced.

{words to a silent god, c. 2016}