Random thoughts episode 62.

Random thoughts episode 62.

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Well, I went to church yesterday.  I am ultra-conservative.  Was raised Lutheran of the Missouri Synod, which is pretty close to Catholic, with a closed table and all that.  We also believe in the transubstantiation (sp? — we moved before I was confirmed so I never saw that word in print, no idea how to spell it, and I could have googled it quicker than explaining it, but whatever).  The thing is we believe that the bread and wine in Holy Communion becomes the body and blood of Jesus.  

Over the years I have been Baptist, and Church of Christ, UCC, and I have studied with JWs and Christian Scientists and Methodist and Lutherans of the American Synod, Nazareen, and Catholics.  So I have been all over so to speak.  And presently, I belong to a UCC church, which is ultra-liberal  I have my reasons.  My brother is gay, and I don’t want to hear that he is going straight to Hell because I don’t believe that.  

I listen to Catholic radio, and heard today the guy saying he would get up and walk out if a bishop was introduced with his husband, and went on to say that, well the jist was that it’s a huge lie and it is likely to cause people to fall, meaning lose out on salvation.  

But I am still ultra-conservative, especially when it comes to religion.  I found this church 29 years ago when they offered a Bible Study, and got into therapy after going through a pretty intense weekend and having that meeting with the pastor.  And I got really active in the church, missions committee, counsel, taught Sunday School.  And when my niece (my oldest brother’s daughter was 4, I started bringing her to church every Sunday.  I did this for about 3 years.  And I started to bring her nephew who my brother and his wife were raising as well.  And then my brother started coming with his wife and his daughter, and I, well, I was not comfortable going to church with him, and I started watching my older sister’s girls  they are 12 now, and I started watching them 10.5 years ago.  But my niece is 25 or 27 now, so that wasn’t the reason I dropped out of the church.  I dropped out because of my brother.  

I continued studying with other groups around town, and then my Sundays were taken up by my nieces.  I don’t know when my brother stopped going to church.  No idea.  When his daughter, my god daughter was confirmed, they never let me know that was happening.  So I missed it.  Bad God Mother!  I am God mother to my older and younger sisters’ daughters as well.  

I came back to my church, the only one I became a member of, the one my brother had been going to.  Last summer, about a year ago.  So yesterday, this lady I knew from way back, comes up to me, “Oh, how nice to see you here.”  I always love that.  People who haven’t been to church forever, because maybe the have a summer house and winter house far away, and they’re retired and all that.  But they come like they’ve been there all along, and walk up to you and say they are happy to see you there.  Whatever.  It’s good to see you here.  Yep, it’s good to see you here too lady.  

Ok, so yesterday, besides that, the minister is on vacation and it is a communion Sunday, and this open and affirming guy does his speel to explain that everyone is welcome at the table, but he goes way beyond that.  I don’t care about the gay or straight thing, we are open and affirming or in the process, and that is certainly part of it, but saying that we can be Christians or not — that is going way over the rainbow in my opinion.  As I was walking out, I thanked him for being there, wondering whether that was the common stance for our church, and seeing if I could snag Bob (adult SS teacher) and ask him.  But  I didn’t want to bother the visiting pastor. 

Bob was busy, so I left and outside one of the ladies asked me what I was thinking about, so I told her and after a brief conversation, she says, “Let’s ask him.”  I’m like, “uhm, no, uhm, I don’t want to bother…”  and she’s heading for the door with an I’m not going to take no for an answer.  

So, he tried to explain and I tried to explain where I was coming from and how that made me feel.  I mean, if you are Muslim or Jew or Hindu, or aethist, that square of bread dipped in your choice of grape juice or wine, is not going to stave off starvation or anything.  It’s not sweet, you are not missing anything if you don’t know/believe what it is all about.  And saying that folks don’t need to believe very basic Christian belief, enough to identify themselves as Christian, I.e.: Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.  I’m not demanding the virgin birth of Jesus, and we’ll work on the trinity, but the idea that the table is open to non-Christians, to me that cheapens it.  And I said that.  Finally the guy said he should probably stop talking, because he wasn’t convincing me, and everything was becoming more and more confused,  I suppose it is something that the ultra-liberal church I belong to believes.  

I have another reason to maybe not go here now.  But I’ve known these people for nearly three decades off and on.  Mostly, I can agree or disagree without walking off and not coming back.  Ok, when they refused to hire the black lady for interim minister, (our church claims to be all into social justice, but one of the church worthies told me the reason I was the only one that voted for her, was because “people would leave the church” so that was the other reason I stopped going, it wasn’t all my brother), yeah that really bothered me.  At the same time, I wouldn’t consider the lesbian applicant.  But it was not because people might leave, I just thought. since we weren’t open and affirming at the time, that it would be better for the congregation to experience a woman pastor first, and not have their only experience of a female in the pulpit being gay as well.  Which probably makes me as much of a hypocrite as I thought they were.  

Which sets the stage for posting this at all here.  Last week, I was asked how I was by the adult SS teacher, someone I have known forever, 30 years, in fact I went to school with his daughter.  I told him, “not so good.”  He comes back with this stupid statement about how “he used to worry when he had no shoes until he met a man with no feet.”  First of all, the guy is a retired politician who has never known life without owning a pair of shoes.  He has no clue what want is.  I know more about that, than he does, and I am sure his using a economic hardship allegory was at least somewhat because I am not well-to-do.  But whatever.  I then remembered it was his wife who shamed me so many years ago for counseling with the pastor.  I was so stupid at that time, that I thought I was probably wrong.  But she had no clue what was going on, and that I was in counseling outside of the church — Pastor Mark got me started with that, and he continued to counsel me for a while.  There is a spiritual aspect to all of this.  But that is ancient history. 

The thing is, I wanted to tell this guy, about the fact that there are real handicaps that are not visible.  Depression can be very debilitating, especially when it has sunk to the level of suicidal ideas or worse.  Of course I did not.    It is frustrating that I have a family and I have a church-family, and I cannot share, I cannot talk about what is killing me in neither place.  The pastor knows, and I have talked to him, but he is on vacation.  And, he gave up on our group we were going to put together, and that would have really helped during this transition, nothing from the CRCC.  June has come and gone, like April, and January.  Whatever.  

Thinking about this today.  I told the lady at the CRCC that I did not feel the need to keep the secret any longer.  I was so pissed at Brian, I told her she could shout it from the mountain tops.  This was many months ago.  But if I were to get up in front of our church and tell them about having been sexually abused and having survived incest with my brothers, well, there are folks in that church that know my oldest brother.  His wife is fighting breast cancer.  His kid is in college.  I may not care about tarnishing my brother, but I don’t want to hurt his wife or his kid.  Even Brian who lives 2 hours away, his wife is from here and her folks, people know them.  So, if I tell even one or two folks at my church who I am and what happened to me, there is the possibility that it comes back and doesn’t hurt my brother, but his wife, and his kid.  I don’t want that.  

So, like it or not, the burden of the secret is on me.  I can keep it from my parents.  I can keep it from my church.  I would be perfectly ok being a lesbian or being a drug addict or alcoholic in my church.  But I can’t be me.  And that sucks.  I don’t really want them to know, I don’t want pity or anything.  But sometimes I wish I could be sad and not have someone make stupid comments about being glad for having feet.  I wish I could counsel with the minister without someone making a stupid comment about how I shouldn’t be.  I wish I didn’t have to feel like I needed to explain why I am not married or dating, don’t have kids, am not in a relationship, and am not gay.  

I don’t know, there are things that the church is good at, but I feel left behind.  Inject pity party here.  Ah well.  I am still very depressed, and am trying to work my way out of it.  


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14 comments

  1. mkyuellig Volunteer

    Hey solongago,

    Thanks for the update. I’m sorry that you are struggling lately. It can be very frustrated when we don’t feel accepted in a place that is important to us and by people we respect. I think the people that are truly living out the ideals of the church will be kind and accepting to you. In the mean time, don’t feel like you owe anyone any kind of explanation for why you are the way that you are. You are wonderful and unique and irreplaceable. You are still doing an awesome job using your coping skills and getting yourself from one session to the next. You should be proud of your growth.

    Stay strong and be gentle with yourself,
    Keight

  2. Graciegrace22 Volunteer

    Hello,

    I am sorry to here you are in such a tough spot. Not feeling like you can be yourself in the place which seems to bring such passion to you is heart wrenching. I am hoping you are able to come to a happy medium and what happened to you was not your fault.

  3. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi Solongago,

    I’m sorry that you feel lost and unaccepted at your church. It can be very difficult when those who are supposed to care for and nurture us are dismissive or don’t understand. Even if they mean well, reciting tired cliches instead of truly listening and offering advice can be more hurtful than helpful. Hang in there! We’re here for you.

    All the best,
    Becca

  4. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Hey Solongago

    You feelings are valid and it is diffuclt to keep secerets from people who are around us and if feel like we showing them a filtered version of ourselves which can lead to feeling out of place.I talk to people who i trust when i am out of place and it helps me feel better. I understand conflict within the church which makes it more difficult. Understand that what you are feeling is valid everyone copes differently. We are here for you and know you can work through your feelings. We are here to support you.

  5. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,
    Your feelings are valid. It is so difficult to keep secrets from the people around us, and it can feel like we’re showing them a filtered version of ourselves, which can lead to feeling out of place. You’re truly not alone when it comes to feeling that way; it’s something I go through in church as well. I talk to people I trust whenever I feel out of place, and it helps me feel better. I understand that conflict between wanting to share what happened and being worried that it’ll hurt the people around them. It’s definitely not easy.
    I think that statement about not having feet is strange as well, and it invalidates your feelings. Others may have it worse (worse is a subjective term, by the way), yet your struggles and emotions are valid. Everyone copes with their experiences in different ways, and experiences tend to be very subjective. Sometimes this kind of thinking can make us feel terrible because we tell ourselves that our feelings are invalid because people go through worse, which isn’t true at all.
    Thank you for updating us. I know you can work through these feelings, and I hope you feel better soon. I encourage you to do a form of self care to help you cope. We’re here for you, and we’re supporting you.

  6. Marissa Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,

    Thanks for updating us on what’s going on. Like some others have said, although maybe it doesn’t seem like it, lots of people feel like they don’t fit in. So you’re definitely not alone in feeling like that, if it helps. I don’t think you’re throwing a pity party for yourself. Your feelings are valid and very understandable. I think a good plan of action is discussing this with your therapist, if you feel comfortable and if you’ve got the time with her. Maybe she could provide some better insight on how to deal with this? Sorry I’m not being super helpful, but please let us know if there’s anything else we can do to help you. We’re here for you!!

    Marissa

  7. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear Solangogo,
    If it helps, I think that almost everyone secretly feels like they don’t fit in. Some are better than others at hiding it, but we all just want someone to understand and accept us for all our light and shadows. You aren’t alone and the more we talk about it and share it, the more we begin to understand and help each other. The thing is, we will never get it from someone else unless we accept ourselves first. I think you have done a lot of work on that this past year and your posts are your way of doing it. You are incredibly smart and very giving. You are also strong and resilient and I know that you will use whatever resources you can access to pull yourself through this dip. You’ve been through a lot these last few months and it is normal to feel sad and angry (and whatever other feelings you have about it). Keep going, keep fighting, keep pushing…we are right there with you.
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  8. Samantha Harris Volunteer

    Hi Solangogo,
    Thank you for sharing. I wouldn’t say it’s a pity party. It’s perfectly valid to feel the way you do and want to talk about it on here. I’m sorry you’re struggling with your church. If you haven’t already, I would suggest talking to your therapist about this. She might be able to help you through these emotions. Let us know if we can help in any way, we’re here for you.

  9. Ashley Volunteer

    Hi Solangogo,

    I’m so sorry that you’re struggling, but I truly admire how strong your faith has remained throughout all of this. I’m glad that you have that.
    Therapy is always a great place to sort through these emotions. Have you looked into groups for survivors? Or, considering your relationship to your faith, certain types of faith-based women’s groups? Since you’d like to remain anonymous being the circumstances, the internet may be a great choice for either option.
    Let us know what we can do for you.

    – Ashley

    1. Solongago

      Hi Ashley, I have been trying to find a group for survivors for a year. It has become a pet peeve of mine. If I was an alcoholic, there’s a meeting on every corner, every hour of the day (not quite, but you get the gist). I have been promised a group, several times. I have been denied groups because I work and pay taxes there, but I don’t live in their county. I can’t even pay myself to get into the group. Karen said that I probably don’t need a group, and any old women’s group would be sufficient. But I don’t necessarily agree with her.

      I don’t want to do an ordinary women’s group. Most of them are discussing husbands/boyfriends, and children, with a distant third being work. I have nothing to go on with the husbands/boyfriends, and therefore children as well, and work is just fine, I leave it there when I go, and have no interest in spending my time worrying about, discussing, or even complaining about work. Also, I am on second shift, and that means unless a group is on Saturday or Sunday, it will be at a time I cannot attend.

      I think I am doomed to the internet, where the group is like this, and comments are not immediate. There are pros and cons to this. The pros are that even with my crazy schedule I can communicate/participate. And the cons are that I can’t see eyes and reactions and it isn’t immediate.

  10. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi Solongago,
    I’m sorry church is a hard thing to go to and attend. I know many people like to go to church or god when they need help. I would try to talk to your therapist about this. She might be able to give you good advice about this. It’s good to hear from you.
    -Alyssa

  11. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thanks for coming back to share. I’m sorry you’re struggling with your church right now. Have you been able to talk to your new therapist about this? She might be helpful, too. We are here for you.

    Erin

  12. DiiO

    Hi Solongago,

    I don’t think that’s a pity party at all. I think you have every right to feel as you do. It’s a very real thing I struggle with as well. Not so much the same in that I haven’t been to church in years. Probably decades. But I understand not being able to be yourself. I actually just recently realized how much of an act I put on for people. It’s sad to me that I feel just being myself isn’t good enough. The abuse from the past shouldn’t define us. But In some ways it does and I think that’s ok. It is part of us and something we can’t change. I hope to one day be able to be truly authentic. I haven’t told my partner or my family. I have one friend who knows there was sexual abuse in my past. That’s it. Anyway, I don’t know what my point is. I just want you to know that I feel you. It isn’t fair that we continue to suffer for things that weren’t our fault. I take comfort in the fact that I can be me, here.
    Thanks for all the sharing you do. It helps me to read what you’re going and have went through.
    I’m here for you in whatever way I can be.
    ❤️ DiiO

    1. Solongago

      I have a couple of friends who know. Three of the four I feel I can talk to, but I am always afraid of being too much. But thanks. It is helpful to know where others have been, we don’t feel so alone, and we know where they are coming from. I am struggling right now. This is temporary, and I will drag myself through it, with a lot of help from everyone. Anyhow the pity party is me saying, it isn’t fair! Today’s pity party was that my brothers are both married have each raised a kid. They have an experience I will never have. I will never have my kid graduate from high school, college, get married, have a kid, grandchildren, it sucks. But I wouldn’t want anything to happen to them. It isn’t fair, but it is also true that life just isn’t fair. Ah well. Being whiney. And irritable. Too much time between sessions.