Pins and Needles

This week started with a terrorist attack during a concert in Manchester. And I’m not sure where to begin with that other than it’s overwhelming, numbing, and painful to watch these things happen over and over again. Knowing that there will be another inevitably, and not knowing how to comfort those more directly involved–especially when trauma related incidents remind you of other events.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop, feeling cornered, anxiety rising in your chest…when there may or may not be a threat. But you don’t know, so your body and mind are always ready for whatever comes your way. You’ve never been to war, but you know what it’s like to be in the midst of a battle.

This is what trauma does to a person. And it. is. exhausting. Even when a threat isn’t present, triggers from when there was a threat are constant and seem extraordinarily ordinary. The smell of someone’s cologne, a road you drive on all the time, a certain type of clothing, etc. Or even being in a similar environment: like in a church or your own home where abuse has occurred.

I’ve been conditioned to say “oh, but God’s in control and everything will work out for your good.” But I have a very low tolerance for that bullshit this week. Not saying that it’s not true. Just…It’s not helpful during times of distress and grief. What’s better is to sit with people in that grief and pain and be there. Be present with one another and don’t try to “fix it.”

I want to have comforting words for people. I want to tell them it will be ok and give them hope. Especially as someone in seminary training for ministry, I feel like I should know what to say that fixes this. None of that brings people back from the dead or reverses abuse. So, the only thing I know to say presently is to love each other well and be kind. Because we can always be kind. And I think that matters especially in the face of evil.


Preacher’s Daughter

(Content warning for spiritual abuse and suicidal thoughts)

Let’s face it. I’m in therapy in part because of my parents. So, today–Mother’s Day–is not usually a fun day for me. This year it’s been extraordinarily difficult because it’s the first Mother’s Day since coming out to my parents. Holidays in general are hard for queer kids of conservative evangelical/fundamentalist parents.

Based on my experience so far, I don’t really know how to make it any easier other than to either avoid them or do your best to survive them. It’s a survival thing either way, which I hate. This time was part surviving through avoidance/part surviving through participating. And it was the first time I didn’t go to church with everyone, and I had panic attacks basically all weekend. If that tells you anything about how it all went. Thankfully I have some really great friends and we kind of all got through it together.

And THIS WEEKEND especially has so much pressure to it. It’s nearly suffocated me because I know I’ll never be enough for my parents. Not only am I not a fundamentalist Christian, I’m also gay. Literally never going to measure up to their idea of how my life should be. Learning to accept that I don’t have to be enough or them–I’m enough for me–is a new concept.

Also, I don’t even know if I’ve talked about this nearly enough, but I’m a preacher’s daughter. A gay preacher’s daughter, who is also studying at seminary to be a preacher. My life is full of dramatic irony like that. I love my dad and my mom, but they don’t know how to love me and accept me for who I am. They are WHY I’m even studying to be in ministry. Not because it pleases them (hello, a woman preacher?), but because there are so many kids with parents like mine who have been damaged by the church.

The church ought to be a place of healing. And mother’s day ought to be a day where everyone can be honest about their experiences with their mothers and as mothers regardless of whether that’s one of beauty, pain, or a mixture of the two.

So…moving forward. I’m enough for me. I am enough as I am. We are all enough as we are and deserve to be treated with love and kindness.

P.S. I am apparently writing poems again and I’m glad, because it helps me sort through things better. Yes, I’m ok and I’ve survived another holiday, but bad theology can destroy:

Spilling Your Guts

Preacher’s daughter turned preacher but one preacher,

Preacher and father turned into a violent spewer

of hate, with his daughter on the receiving end.

Why don’t you love me the way I am?

Why can’t you just love me like you love those you preached to every Sunday?

Why can’t you show compassion to your own family–your own flesh and blood?

This whole time I thought I could be good enough for you.

You were spilling your guts in the name of righteousness–getting something off your chest.

You rolled the burden off your back onto mine.

It was a burden I shared with you, but then…

You used it to crush me. I couldn’t carry it further.

It wasn’t mine to bear.

But now it’s shattered me beyond repair.

Now I am damaged; my throat slit.

My guts spilled out on the concrete.

I’m just a preacher’s daughter and all I ever wanted was a father.



Feelings. Complicated, messy things that I don’t usually know what to do with. Mostly because I was told to ignore mine. And because I’m highly empathetic (thanks to asperger’s, trauma, and being an INFJ on the Meyers Briggs), I don’t always get to control how much I feel. Or whether or not to choose to feel someone else’s emotions.

I’m going to attempt to explain why this is so difficult. I’ve been avoiding bringing this up but I think it’s time. It’s time we talk about Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family, and the lovely book Preparing for Adolescence–otherwise known as my mom’s version of sex education for myself and my sisters.

  1. Dr. James Dobson wrote and said a lot of problematic things.
  2. The things he said about homosexuality were particularly damaging to many people.
  3. What was damaging for me was what he wrote in Preparing for Adolescence about emotions. Specifically that you can’t trust your emotions or yourself. ever. You can only trust God.
  4. For someone who has a degree in child development, he sure as hell didn’t promote healthy emotional development in children, and churches and parents continue teaching their kids not to trust themselves or acknowledge their emotions in healthy ways.
  5. The things I read on emotions when I was 12 affect me still today. I thought about getting a copy of the book so I could take it apart. But honestly, I can’t handle it.

Let me take a few moments to deconstruct this:

It’s ok to feel all the things. In fact, it is more than ok. No one gets to tell you how to feel anymore. Or that you shouldn’t feel.

And for those highly empathetic out there, I know it’s hard to process your own emotions…let alone everyone else’s. Sometimes that’s impossible to not feel the emotions of those around you. So just remember that you’re not responsible for others’ emotions, and you don’t have to try to fix it. There have to be boundaries.

There’s no shame in setting boundaries for self-care or honestly emoting.

SPEAKING OF HONESTLY EMOTING, I wrote a poem about being in love, about no one person in particular, but just what I imagine it feels like from the few times I let myself feel stuff. Allowing myself to write it and even process what that feels like is kind of a major accomplishment:

You Made Me Stop

The first time I met you, I couldn’t breathe.

If that sounds cheesy, it probably is

I’m not used to allowing myself to feel this way. about anyone.

It was always forbidden so I had to keep

My attractions hidden.

Because I was trying to appease an angry God

Who wouldn’t let me feel anything that was good.

Or happy. Or gay.

But then I saw you and I couldn’t breathe.

I couldn’t breathe because I was too busy watching you.

The way you smiled, the way you laughed, the way you furrowed your brow

The way you looked at me when you thought I wouldn’t notice

Except I did because I was watching you too,

Wondering if it was ok to feel this way

Berating myself for feeling this way at all.

I’m so used to ignoring these feelings and yet

How you made me feel made me stop.

And I couldn’t ignore you.

You make me stop and take you all in.

You made me stop.

And I’ll never be the same again.




Thick Skin (and an elastic heart)

Self-doubt can be crushing. Especially when you know it’ll take years to undo because it comes from being conditioned to hate parts of who you are for the sake of others’ comfort and “love.” I want to write a longer post but currently wrapping up a semester and dealing with mental illness stuff.

And as it turns out, self-love is way harder than I thought. So. In combatting hate (read: internalized homophobia, sexism, and ableism), I’m trying to be better about reminding myself that I’m a person worthy of love and kindness and I didn’t do anything to deserve the hate that’s been directed at me, oftentimes by my own parents and especially by those who share the same faith as myself (Christians, ya’ll. they can be the worst, most harmful people out there.).

My therapist had me do something that was really helpful: Write positive things about who I am as a person and who I’m becoming, which was REALLY hard. I thought I’d share a very short list that I came up with. Maybe in learning to be kind to myself, I’ll get better at this.

I am 1. someone who loves to laugh. 2. I am kind, loving, empathetic, and compassionate towards others. 3. I am there when people need me to be. 4. I am brave.

I am becoming 1. someone who is kind to themselves and not just other people. 2. I am becoming braver. 3. I am becoming who I want to be not who others want me to be.

My anxiety riddled brain wants to tear apart all the good things I see in myself because that’s what I was taught. don’t love yourself because that’s selfish. don’t be gay because that’s twisted sexuality. don’t be this. don’t be that. don’t…be.

It can be really hard to turn all that off. Some days that’s on a constant loop in my head. So, here I am to say that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can love yourself and take care of yourself because you are a person worthy of love. I am a person worthy of love. We are not who others want us to be, maybe. But if we are ourselves, that’s something so much better.