December 4, 2021 Journal Entry
I've been on this journey called "faith deconstruction" for years, perhaps more than a decade, but didn't have a term for it until recently. This article explains: What is Faith Deconstruction?
I'm not sure when or how I came across the term "faith deconstruction", but once I did, I realized I am just one of tens of thousands taking a long hard look at the Christian theology we were raised with, evaluating it, identifying and challenging the lies, eviscerating them, and in partnership with Spirit, creating a new paradigm that fits with what we know to be true about God and our relationship with God.
I've found organizations and blogs and podcasts devoted to the topic, and I'm studying and learning and finding great peace in the information I consume and the transformative process of redefining the tenets of my youth into workable usable truths. I've included some links at the bottom under Resources.
I came across this entry from a bit over three years ago. I wrote it when I was in Louisville, after the breakup with Jeff, when I was still floundering and trying to find my way out a mire of suicidal depression. I was laid flat out in guilt and shame, convinced I was doomed to suffer in the fires of hell for all time. But more critical even than that, I was convinced I wouldn't survive, that I'd take my own life. It seemed inevitable. The only question that remained was when.
It's heartbreaking to reread this. It's heartbreaking to realize I carried such thwarted beliefs inside me well into my mid-50s, and to know how long Spirit was working inside me to help me begin the work of undoing the mindfuck of my childhood and the mindfuck of my family and those people I trusted as "Christians" to provide me proper counsel.
I put my faith in a lot of people that did and said things that pushed me down so far I desperately wanted to go. I'd often raise my fists to the ceiling and scream "Take me take me take me take me!" Hearing over and over you're stained with original sin and you're willfully breaking God's commandments and in danger of eternal damnation results in a sickness of the heart. Load that all on top of childhood sexual abuse, incredibly low self-esteem, and bipolar mental illness, and you have a recipe for certain death.
Luckily, as always and just in time, the Universe brought the truth into my line of site and I began my pursuit. And it's made all the difference.
I'm still sick, I'll always be sick. But I aggressively fight every single day to stay as stable as possible. As recently as six months ago I spent a night in the ER because I wanted to die. But I spent a night in the ER instead. I won that one. I know I won't always win over suicidal ideation, but I'll always win over suicide. I know that. Finally. I know that for certain.
I Persevere. And life goes on.
August 7, 2018 Journal Entry
There’s another 30 Something hot on my trail. And last night, I was very hot on him too. He wanted to come over right then, but I put him off. Which, oddly, is what I’ve been doing at every opportunity for the last while.
This morning, I don’t feel so hot on the kid. My hormones have rested. They’re not driving this morning. What I now know is I don't really want to have sex with him. I just want him to want to fuck me. That is the basis for all of this. To have validation I am worth something. But being sexually sought after does not affirm my intrinsic value and worth. That is a very flawed means upon which to base one’s self esteem.
I've had sex with so many men. It's like it doesn't mean anything. I mean of course it would mean something significant with a good friend like Richard, or Ladder, or even Mr. IJWTF. I know those men. I know them pretty well. But it’s just not significant with some kid.
I've just cheapened the whole act. That's not like me. I may not have to be in love with someone to enjoy it. But I have to have some degree of meaningful connection with them. Even if that means we spend a couple hours together in conversation before launching into the physical. Or else he's just another name on the list and another passage in the book. That's not how I want to live. That's not how I want to be.
I can't keep betraying the truth of who I am. There's a price to pay. This is not guilt I'm feeling. This is the bigger question of who am I? What do I stand for? I just keep pushing those questions out of my mind so I can revel in the pure physical aspect of sex. But when sex is over, all those questions come flooding back, overwhelming me with confusion and anxiety.
For a long time, I could just go on auto-pilot and have sex and not think about it. I could just have fun, see it as the experiment it truly was initially, and for a long time after. Or else I thought I could. But all along, I knew it would come to this. I felt this conflict building into a crescendo of imperative to define who I am and what I am about. And I didn’t want to face that. I didn’t want to deal with that. I didn’t want to ruin my fun. So I have continually avoided thinking about it for nearly two years.
I looked up Existential Angst in Wikipedia:
"Existential angst", sometimes called existential dread, anxiety, or anguish, is a term that is common to many existentialist thinkers. It is generally held to be a negative feeling arising from the experience of human freedom and responsibility. The archetypical example is the experience one has when standing on a cliff where one not only fears falling off it, but also dreads the possibility of throwing oneself off. In this experience that "nothing is holding me back", one senses the lack of anything that predetermines one to either throw oneself off or to stand still, and one experiences one's own freedom."
For most of my life, when I made the decision to have sex, it was like being pushed off the cliff. It was something I wanted, but I felt it was wrong, even evil, and there was a force working against me compelling me to take a risk I did not want to take. “The devil made me do it.” Instead of owning the fact I was choosing to jump, I felt as if I were pushed. I felt like the decision was not really my own, I was succumbing to someone else’s choice, allowing them to push me, not really against my will, but against my knowledge of right and wrong. And there’s another layer to this. I felt if I didn’t succumb, no one would love me. So desperate for connection, desperate for love, I let myself be pushed into sin.
What’s been different about this last two years, is I have willingly, gladly, deliberately flung myself off that cliff. I actively put the thought of negative consequence out of my mind. I denied what I did was sinful. I denied what I did was sinning against myself, against my true nature. I did exactly what I wanted, when I wanted, with whomever I wanted. That’s a very freeing experience. Very. But for me, it is not without consequence.
Regardless of whether you feel your decision was compelled by a force greater than you control, or you know your decision was deliberate, still you must take responsibility for any decision. There are always consequences. Even if you feel compelled to do a thing by a force greater than you, still, you always have control over your choices. You may not want to believe that, but you do.
So truly, whether you feel you are pushed, or you embrace the doing of the thing, the consequences are basically the same. At some point, you have to take a look at who you really are. You have to assess how your behavior matches up with your beliefs. You have to assess if the way you live your life is in alignment with the legacy you desire to leave.
Here’s the dichotomy I’m coming to understand. I was raised with Judeao Christian values, but forced to succumb to the will of my father. So knowing what my father was doing was wrong, but I was compelled, through a desire to love and honor my mother, to go along with it. To be complicit.
Actually as a child you are not complicit but you don’t know. You’re always being told, “Be a good girl”. But intrinsically, you don’t have a fucking clue how to be a good girl. You’re just told that to be a good girl, you have to think and you have to feel and you have to act exactly how the adults tell you.
And if they are hypocritical, if they give you mixed messages, you’re left to sort it out on your own. And you don’t have the brainpower, the life experience, or even the ability to ponder on things from a remotely objective viewpoint. You haven’t the means to make sense of things. So you’re trapped in your own shame. You shoulder the guilt for acts never committed.
You are made to take responsibility for the sins of others against you. You are in reality a victim, but you are labeled as a bad person. You are seen as the root of the evil, and the perpetrator is absolved of all responsibility. People don’t even see the perpetrator as part of the equation. They blame the sinful selfish nature of the child, stained with original sin.
My uncle’s family repeatedly told my father I was willful and sinful and I needed more discipline, more beating actually, in order to beat the badness out of me. What I was, was precocious. I wasn’t a bad child. I was a very smart child. So smart I intimidated my father, which he dealt with by stepping up the abuse. He did everything he could to deconstruct my self-esteem, to control me. I tried to honor his efforts out of love for my mother, but it didn’t come naturally. I have low self-esteem, it’s true, but I am a strong woman, a force to be reckoned with. I did fight, have fought, continue to fight. But even though I fight instinctively, I persist in believing I’m not worthy of the fight. But no one can do the work for me. No one can fight this fight but me. But I’m tired. Really really tired.
The message I got growing up is people believed I brought my pain on myself, or I was making it up to be something it wasn’t. They denied the existence of my pain. They told me I wasn’t really feeling what I was feeling, or I shouldn’t be feeling the way I was feeling. Then I no longer trusted my feelings, my gut instincts. I acted in ways that betrayed my own self, that betrayed what I knew to the be the truth of who I am. I made it easy for predators to abuse me. I, in fact, attract predators.
I set myself up to be treated a particular way by men. So predatory men, and good men, walk into my life, and I can’t tell the difference between those that really care about me and those that are simply opportunistic, because I haven’t set up the appropriate precautions within myself. Because after a lifetime of mixed messages, and being told I can’t trust myself, even telling myself that myself, I no longer trust my own judgment.
Most people shut down, put up walls and barriers of protection. In my case, I followed my mother’s example of putting every man's needs above my own. I’ve eliminated all walls. I live completely transparently. When I love, I love completely, with my entire being. I let nearly anyone in, without consideration of whether or not they are worthy. If they hurt me, I let them.
I look back and see they were unworthy, then I tell myself it was my own fault for being complicit. And then I forgive them, too quickly. And then I boldly carry on, without making any changes to my abilities to discern. I choose to believe all people are like me, that people always have good intentions, like me. That’s simply not true. I don’t seem to learn from my mistakes. Maybe I’m incapable of learning from my mistakes? I recently let another man steal $300 from me. It might as well be $3000, that’s how much $300 means to me without an income.
Why did I do it? Because now, instead of wanting to love and honor my mother by succumbing to my father, I want to love and honor God by giving the last that I have to someone I perceive as needing it more than me. I don’t think I’m a good enough Christian, a good enough person. I don’t think I deserve to have anything. I am in so much pain, but am reminded every day that there are people that are in far greater pain that me. And they have a right to their pain, but I don’t have a right to mine.
I’m selfish to even feel this pain. I’m literally sinning by being in pain. So I give all I have to give, hoping to gain the privilege of heaven after death if I can just be good enough. I love God. I want to be with God. I want nothing more. But I’m never good enough. I have to keep being good enough. It’s a relentless exhausting never ending mindfuck. I’m fucking tired. If this is what life is, I don’t want to live.
The truth is, the person I sacrifice for doesn’t need my sacrifice. I need the lesson more. But I don’t learn the lesson. So I allow myself to be victimized, repeatedly, when presented with the same set of circumstances. I’m in an endless loop of victimization and shame, unable to make the changes inside of me required to identify evil when it presents and run from it, or stand up to it.
I simply haven’t the tools I need to be my authentic self. I’m consumed with angst, fear, anxiety, conflict, pain. If this is what life is, I don’t want to live. And I don’t know how to get off the hamster wheel. I’m killing myself and I don’t know how to step off. I’m terrified of staying on, I’m terrified of stepping off. The devil I know is better than the devil I don’t?
So it’s not the boredom of life that causes me to seek hedonistic pleasures as a diversion. It’s the pain of life. It’s the pain of my life. I fucking need help, and I don’t know where to get it, how to get it, and what will happen to me if I can’t fix this. One way or another, I’ll die. Either from the stress of living like this, from succumbing to my addictions, or at my own hand. And that’s what I’m most terrified of. That I’m killing myself, slowly or deliberately, but either way, I’m sinning against God once again, because any way you slice it, I am killing myself. I’ve failed at being a good steward of my own body. I rebel against the greatest gift God has given me, the gift of life, my own life.
This is one I just fucking cannot win.
William Paul Young, author of "The Shack"
Neale Donald Walsh, author of "Conversations With God"