Another story I don’t want to tell

Writing on Wednesdays late at night seems to be my new thing. There’s been so much that I’ve been processing lately what with hitting trauma anniversaries and the news cycle. But today, I got a book called Buffering by Hannah Hart, YouTuber and well known for the youtube channel, My Drunk Kitchen. It’s amazing and everyone should read it.

Anyway, it’s helping me process some stories that I don’t necessarily want to think about and haven’t taken the time to write about. One such story is about a relationship I had with a woman who I sincerely believe to be schizophrenic. It’s really the only explanation that fits what I witnessed and experienced by being close friends and basically partners. At the time of this relationship, I was only beginning to question my sexuality and had not admitted to myself or anyone else that I was gay. I thought I was probably bisexual at the time but more as a way of convincing myself I could pass as straight even if I wasn’t. During this time, I became close friends with this girl I went to college with whose name will not be mentioned to protect her privacy. I tell this story hesitantly because I value her privacy. I have to talk about this, though. I need to talk about this.

She was the first woman I admitted I loved even if I didn’t understand it at the time, and I believe it was mutual. We just…never talked about it like we were dating, but still acted like we were in every sense of that word. She was the first woman I loved to break my heart and shatter me. The real me. Not the one who pretended to be straight and have it altogether. She was beautiful and she was insane. I watched her on the brink of a mental breakdown, and then I watched her spiral, with nothing I could do to stop it. I was there for her in every way she would let me be, but eventually she pushed all her friends away including myself. She blamed me and said I wasn’t doing enough because I couldn’t drop everything and help her 24/7. Maybe I should have. I don’t know. I thought at the time boundaries were good, because my mental health was not stable enough. I almost lost her several times while trying to talk her out of suicide but living 3o minutes away. And I couldn’t send help to someone who doesn’t want help. Later, she would say I was the reason she was suicidal, and that I was the enemy. Eventually, thanks to good friends who saw how toxic the relationship had become and that I couldn’t help her anymore, I slowly broke contact with her after she moved back in with her family to a more stable environment. To my knowledge, she is still alive and well physically. I don’t know about her mind.

I bring this up now because as I am processing my past sexual abuse, I remember that she was the first to help me sort through my traumatic past. She was the first to tell me it wasn’t my fault and tell me I could heal. If only I could have helped her as much as she helped me. If only the love I had for her could have helped through all the mental instability.

That’s all I really have to say about it for now. I’m sure I’ll need to process more later. A poem is all I have left as I try to process:

Your mind.

Beautiful, lost, kind, crazy

I had your heart but I couldn’t understand your mind.

Brilliant, psychotic, bold, strange

You had my heart but you lost your mind.

Trapped, wandering, vulnerable, scared

I wanted to enter your world but I was unprepared.

My mind.

Haunted, wondering, helpless, undone

You were too far gone and I was too late to save your mind.

Devastated, heartbroken, hopeful, tried

You loved your delusions–your world–more than mine.

Broken, healing, brave, remembering

what we had, but I tried to forget your world–never to forget your heart.

I was in love and I didn’t know it.

I was in love and couldn’t show it.

We were in love and we ignored it.

We were in love and then we lost it.

Because of your mind, you could never be mine. But at least I could say I tried.


Now it is Thursday, and maybe I can sleep. Sometimes unloading and sharing some of the pain helps.

Church at the Margins

I’m attempting to work on a draft for a research paper where we are to “critique” a chapter from the book, Sexuality and the Sacred, which my Sexual Ethics prof hates, and I absolutely love. Trying to figure out how to word things in a way to be convincing enough that gay people can belong in the church while speaking “conservative Christian.” So, the chapter I picked was called “Church at the Margins.” Attempt on the intro paragraph is below…or what I have so far:

“Many of us grew up in the church and experienced it as a place of nurture, healing, and redemption—until we realized our gay identities. At that point we faced two primary choices: remain closeted and increasingly experience the world through a split existence, or come out and face hostility and expulsion from the church. Either path left us wounded and divided, with no community in which to integrate two fundamental parts of our identity, being gay and being Christian.”  Church at the Margins by Dan Spencer, from Sexuality and the Sacred, first edition

Is the Church requiring more of those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender in order to come to Christ and call themselves Christians than those who are not a part of the LGBT community?

First of course, this begs the question of what is required of a person to be considered a follower of Christ? What are the qualifications for one to consider themselves a Christian? Since when was it a requirement to affirm a certain set of beliefs about human sexuality or any other moral issue in the Bible in order to be a “true Christian?” Why is it that the issue of whether or not someone thinks gay people can be Christians and still be gay a dis-qualifier for being accepted in the church or being accepted by Jesus as a child of God whom he died for?

A more specific question to ask at this point would be whether or not it is necessary to have the same traditional interpretation of human sexuality to be a part of the body of Christ. For centuries, the church has been divided over many points of doctrine. Most would probably agree that there are certain core doctrines everyone must agree on to be Christian such as believing Jesus was and is the Son of God and also man, or that Jesus is the only means of atoning for the sins of mankind and therefore, the only way of salvation. Even on those points, people differ and can still be considered Christian but maybe not in certain circles. It depends on who one asks about these issues as to whether or not they can be Christian or not.

The word gay in many ways strikes a nerve with conservative evangelical Christians with the focus being on who a gay person prefers to have sex with instead of the fact that a gay person is also a person created in the image of God and is more than their sexual attractions or even their sexual actions. Some would say that being gay (or same-sex attracted) is a part of a person that they cannot change any more than someone who is straight can change the fact that they are attracted to people of the opposite sex. It seems to be innate and about more than sexual behaviors.

These are questions that are plaguing the Church right now and have been for quite some time. Many theologians and Christian leaders have been divided over this with some saying one cannot be gay and Christian or cannot be affirming of gay people and be Christian, and others saying gay people can in fact, be Christians and still be gay, asserting that they cannot change their sexual orientation. It is the view of the writer that while people can be gay, they can be Christian, and being gay is but one part of that person not the whole of them. In fact, there are those in the church who consider themselves LGBT who came to Christ before realizing they might not be heterosexual.

They perhaps have realized they cannot change this part of themselves and continue to be fully committed Christians who love God and seek to follow Christ’s teachings. Or, they came into the church as they were, gay or lesbian, or bisexual, and then came to Christ. What then, for those people? Are they then less of a Christian for meeting the requirements of being a Christian like their straight counterparts simply because their attractions are different? Are they then to be exiled from the church because of six verses in Scripture that have been traditionally interpreted in such a way to say that church is not for you, Christ is not for you since you are not attracted to the right type of person?

This is a basic contradiction—between our faith that God is a God of love and compassion and our experience of hatred and contempt from the church and society—has caused us to cry out ‘How long, God?’ Why do we experience so much pain suffering, confusion, hatred, and how long until we are simply accepted and loved for who we are? Why is the very community that names you central to its faith the one that drives us away? Where do we go and what do we do to experience your love?” – Dan Spencer

Stories I don’t want to tell

(Content note for sexual abuse and sexual assault)

This might be the first time I’ve ever had to give a content note for a post, but September through October my PTSD is worse than other times due to flashback memories of past abuse and assault. With all that’s been going on with Donald Trump and things he has said about and done to women, I felt like it was finally time to tell my story. I’m tired of being silent, and I’m tired of men telling me my experience isn’t valid simply because they don’t want to be held accountable. Or that it’s “just words,” or that I “wanted” what happened to me.

I was 18 when I had my first boyfriend. He was kind at first and one of the smartest people that I know to this day. We met while working at a Christian summer camp. Our relationship lasted for two years and ended when I was 20 years old. It started out great, like most relationships do, with both people in the relationship putting their best foot forward and keeping their rose colored glasses on.

When I look back at the relationship, I realize so many red flags that I missed leading up to the assault. But that doesn’t make it my fault for it happening. The fault for rape is the rapist not the victim. I never would have seen it coming because I trusted him implicitly. We were in a long distance relationship. He went to a college in Illinois (that will not be named here for anonymity and my own protection), and I went to a small school in North Carolina.

We didn’t see each other much; however, when we were together, he monopolized my time and I felt isolated from everyone else in my life. I assumed, “this is how it’s supposed to be when you’re in love. That person’s supposed to become your world, I guess.” My gut told me something differently, yet my experience up to that point was that this was ok. In the second year of the relationship, I felt that my boyfriend was controlling so much of my life. My world revolved around when he would call–even if it meant losing sleep. Lots of sleep–waiting for him to get off work. I always had to adjust my schedule, because he was never “flexible” enough to adjust to mine. Then…he invited me to visit him in Illinois for four days–he would buy the plane tickets ensuring that I could come even though I couldn’t afford it at the time. I was also working full-time, and at home studying online for a semester.

My parents and I were not on good terms, and my dad recommended that I not go. My boyfriend insisted it would be ok, and that I could make my own decision. Over all, nothing seemed amiss. It didn’t feel right but I couldn’t figure out why.

He picked me up at the airport on Thursday, September 15, 2011. Yes, I remember the date, because my life completely changed after those four days. on Saturday, September 17, we were walking back to his apartment in student housing after going out for a late lunch with a couple of his friends. He decided to go the back way into the apartment complex where there were fewer people. We were walking through the hallway and no one was around when he began kissing me. This was without my consent–but consent was a word and concept I would learn much, much later. Shortly after that he had me backed against the wall, still kissing me, and I couldn’t move. Both because I froze and because he held my arms down. After this point, I felt like I wasn’t even in my body but was watching what happened with horror. I forgot the events of the rest of the day and didn’t remember the assault until I broke up with him a month later.

“Locker room” talk should NEVER include sexual assault. Because the victims of assault are real people like me who still suffer the consequences of those words turning into actions. It took this assault 5 years ago for me to remember being molested by my neighbor when I was 4. It was my first time truly remembering the things that man did to me. I still have repressed memories that normally come back in the form of nightmares or flashbacks–the re-experiencing of memories/events that were traumatic. These are things no woman should have to go through, and yet it is common place. Statistically speaking, one in four women will experience sexual abuse in their lives. For me, it’s too late to change what happened to me, but I hope by writing about my experience that it will help others.

It does get better. The flashbacks eventually become fewer and the nightmares eventually don’t come every night. Just know that you are loved and you are worthy of respect and dignity. You don’t deserve to have a presidential nominee defend his actions and make sexual assault ok. It’s not right and it’s not normal. You are not alone. It was not your fault.

Are you in or out?

Finally getting a chance to collect my thoughts more as the mid-way point in the semester is approaching, and I wanted to do a follow up on the last post to flesh out some of the questions I asked as a result of my Sexual Ethics class. Also, as an update, I started therapy for real this time with a therapist who is both a lesbian and Christian and specializes in reconciling lgbtq issues with faith. Anyway, I wanted to touch on two questions that I’ve spent a lot of time asking myself and asking about the church as a whole:

“How can churches better minister to the LGBTQ community that is in the margins between their faith and sexuality?”

The first question I put chronologically before the second but really, if the church wants to minister better to LGBTQ people, a good first step in that is not making them choose between being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans and being Christian. No exceptions. Loving, affirming church communities do not equal welcoming. Welcoming is great, but welcoming can be just as homophobic in subtler ways. Yes, I got this from my therapist. No, I don’t believe it 100% yet because of internalized homophobia–more on that later.

“Why do they have to choose between two things that are a part of who they are?”

This question has one simple answer: homophobia.  But to further answer it, people hate what they do not understand. So, they try to stigmatize it, erase it, disallow it, reject it–whatever the hell it takes for that uncomfortable thing to go away in order to pretend you aren’t different than them. If it doesn’t exist, they don’t have to deal with it. If I’m gay, I obviously can’t be Christian. If I’m a Christian, I obviously can’t be gay. And can I say this: that is fucked up. Pardon the language that I don’t normally use in this space, but this is so wrong. I’m sorry, but in the church, here there be lesbians, gay and bi people, trans people, queer people of all expressions and identities. And Jesus loves us as we are.

It was wrong for the church to ask women to be ok with it when they interpreted passages of Scripture in very sexist, misogynistic ways. It was wrong for the church to defend slavery and segregation based on an incorrect interpretation of the Bible. Using the Bible to judge or abuse to de-humanize another person and make them less than. is. wrong. This is not only saying I cannot express my sexuality by being in a loving relationship within the church, it is also saying, I am not worthy to exist in the same space as straight Christians. Yet, while still teaching I cannot lose my salvation, telling me I’m not a Christian because I’m not like you.

So, am I in or out of the kingdom of God now? Who am I if not a committed Christian studying at a Christian seminary because I love Jesus too? I feel like I compromised for the comfort of those around me. In my church growing up, people would only accept certain parts of me. So, I split myself in pieces and only shared parts of me. I don’t remember who I am as a whole person, but I’m trying to piece myself back together. I followed all the rules. but if they can’t accept me for who I am, that’s not ok. I am a whole person. Take me as I am or not at all.

I’m still learning to accept and embrace myself. I feel like I spent my whole life having others affirm who I am and accept me before I could affirm and accept myself. I need to accept and affirm myself whether or not anyone else does and maybe even before they come to that conclusion.

I cut my heart in pieces for you, church. I was who everyone wanted me to be but me. For all of you…simply to get thru this life. I am whole as I am. No more. No less. I am enough as I am. No more no less. So take me as I am–rainbows and all. I am whole as I am. God loves me but do you?  Do I even love myself? One thing at a time, I guess.