Freedom

“We are FREE in Christ Jesus!” Is a sentence I have heard more times than I have had sex and I’m almost 8 years into my marriage soooooo. A lot. I’ve heard it a lot. And frankly, even if you weren’t raised evangelical – I bet you have too.

Freedom is thrown around by the church like a tie die hacky sack at a shoegaze concert in Colorado. Or, like how my son used to shout “Frog!” loudly at the top of his lungs while not being able to pronounce an r and his g’s definitely sounded like k’s every single time he saw another person for almost 4 months. That’s right. It was my favorite. However, when the church uses it, it is neither entertaining nor does it brighten my spirits. Almost entirely because they are saying it wrong.

Again, this is not a thing I have against Jesus. I like Jesus. It’s the church who claims him that I have a problem with. Because things freedom does not look like:

Heavily policing what women wear in order to enforce a strict code of modesty and begin the indoctrination that their bodies are dirty, dangerous, made exclusively for the enjoyment of men and of bearing children for those men, and that male happiness and indeed thoughts and actions are dependent on our ability to cover up skin.

Being taught that any hobbies that would not have a place in a new Little Women reboot are useless, and indeed sinful because they waste time and women’s time is never to be wasted – by her – on something she enjoys that does not have an element of productivity for others in it.

Being taught that women are obedient first, and everything else that is good and quiet second. The only way she will be blessed is to be submissive to a man, indeed many men, including her pastor, father, future husband, and sometimes brothers and sons depending on denomination.

Being taught to ignore your own experiences and suppress your own intuitive connection with the divine. Granted, this is more like a part b to the point above, but distinct enough it needs its own paragraph. If you have so much as a conversation with the divine that one of the men over you would find questionable, you are to immediately dismiss that conversation and assume you are being tricked by the devil. IF what you believe/realized/received/connected to was REALLY the good one, then He will reveal Himself to the man in authority over you and thusly give you blessing. Otherwise, trust any man in authority over you more than yourself. Always. Else you will most likely burn in hell.

Rejecting any personal aesthetic that involves attention or an affinity for any color not prominent in the rainbow or an Easter palate. Self care is a small list that begins and ends with prayer and might have ‘eat a salad’ or ‘drink some water’ or ‘exercise’ in between. Any sort of indulgence is a waste and selfish.

Peace is more valuable than truth. Especially when that truth is personal and the peace involves anyone else. There is only one truth that should be proclaimed whenever possible, “Jesus is Lord” and I swear there is a secret but well known rule that you get brownie points if it’s written in cursive on a T shirt bought from a grocery store. But seriously, racist grandpa? Shush yourself, he is Jesus’ problem. Petty aunt who passive aggressively compares the grandchildren in a ranking system? Smile and nod. Gropy uncle who aggressively hugs every kid and strips them of their personal autonomy? Children don’t have any say over themselves since they were born sinful, manipulative little turd nuggets so you should blatantly encourage them to not listen to that voice that tells them to stay away from dangerous people and hug their uncle.

Importantly all of these truths can be boiled down into one: do not be yourself. Be a quiet, giving blob of selflessness that constantly allows yourself to silenced while forcing yourself into a cookie cutter mold of a fictional woman from the 1800’s with an endlessly sunny disposition and a penchant for getting walked on.

*side note* Men do not have it easy either. They are discouraged from having emotions, showing emotions, wearing color, being unique in any way, showing weakness, displaying anything other than americanized masculinity, or having close friends that do not attend the same church, or are on a team together, or are women they do not intend to marry, or are not appearing masculine enough. Also the happiness, financial stability, and eternal souls of their nuclear family rests solely on their shoulders. Like they get to enjoy sex but have to keep themselves locked away too.

And locking ourselves away is the opposite of freedom. It is why we are depressed, lonely, and secretive. We have to be secretive because otherwise we die and we don’t actually want to. We want to live. We want to be free. We want to be everything we are. We want to be everything we are made to be. Because deep down we know we were made this way. We’re just told it’s wrong. That we’re wrong. And we’re not.

We’re not. We’re not. We were not born sinful turd nuggets. We were born impressionable, adorable whole people with likes and dislikes and intuition and curiosity chock full of wonder and questions. We internalized so much because we wanted so badly to be good and loved by the man in the sky who said he loved us so long as we were nothing like he made us to be. Or for parental approval. Maybe both. Kids are complicated.

The point is: it’s hard to realize all of this and live out the unlearning because our very vocabulary was fucked with. We were taught freedom and loyalty and unconditional love (agape, you’re welcome) and wholeness and clean and safe and all of those things were somehow twisted into meaning other things.

I am still working on it. Daily. To untangle all this garbage in my mind. Sometimes, doing so feels absolutely absurd. Because it’s often just pointless rebellion, like laying on the floor of my living room that desperately needs to be cleaned and vacuumed and instead shouting “I am more important than this!” at the top of my lungs while spread eagle in over-sized sweatpants. (Truly, I am a *joy* to live with.) But doing that kind of absurd rebellion always reminds me how absurd it is that what I am doing is rebellion. And that helps me breathe a little easier. And get my shoulders down from my ear lobes. And see that the divine truly does not care if I wear black on national holidays.

And that goddess is not in a building. But goddess also isn’t in the people in that building either. That goddess is everywhere and absent all at once and no one can tell us about ourselves (unless they are well trained therapists, in which case my advice is to listen) and life is half of what we make of it and then literally half advertizing (thanks capitalism) and half all of the shit that happens to us and the people that happen to us and how we definitely happen to them. And it’s messy. It is all so fucking messy and THAT is so much more pure than the people shaped cages we are told to be.

Be free. Really free. And really messy.

Grey Hell

To every parent trapped in the grey hell of knowing their parents are toxic af yet wanting their children to have a relationship with their grandparents and for that to miraculously not turn out badly.

It’s exhausting. It’s mystifying. It’s incredibly painful. It is a true, unsustainable limbo. It’s the fine line between being a hard nosed hypocrite and a spineless snowflake. Or maybe. Maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m still dibbling in the koolaid. I mean. How is demanding that your extremely young children be surrounded by people who aren’t going to shatter their tiny hearts with narcissism and manipulation being a hyprocrite?

Do I know my children are going to encounter narcissists and manipulators? Yep. Add in there all the other types of people I don’t want them to get hurt by but know that they will. There’s a difference though, in knowing it’s going to happen at some point and dropping them off there for an afternoon.

How does blood justify the inability to communicate the most basic things? How does blood justify the refusal to acknowledge our family as a whole? It… doesn’t. If anything, their blood is a witness against their ability to understand what family is supposed to be.

And I for one, will no longer be silent. I will be sassy. I will be cheeky. I will say things to purposefully send them into a tizzy because when their buttons involve the basic dignity of oppressed communities – I say we just go for it at that point. Because, like american republicans, I just cannot take them seriously anymore. To pretend as if this is any sort of normal is just too much. I’m done. I’m done with truth not being a thing, making up facts and restating them loudly to prove some sort of point, of talking down to people, of treating others like social pariah’s for NOT listening to baseless facebook conspiracy theories, and casually deciding that the health of every neighbor, every friend, every disliked acquiantence is worth LESS than my discomfort level at covering my face in public. And I am 100% done with them treating any form of consequence for their gross, destructive, oppressive, insane behavior as the basest of insults to their very existence.

Them: “Can you believe all of this? A stolen election.”

Us: “There is actually no evidence -“

Them: “Well there is if you’re not brainwashed by the mainstream media.”

Us: “Like what?”

Them: “Did you watch that Tucker Calson clip circulating on facebook?”

Us: “No.”

Them: “Well if you’re not even interested in finding out the truth for yourself then why would I waste my time trying to show you the truth you’ll deny anyway? You know you weren’t always like this. You used to be such a godly girl. I bet its all the gays you hang out with.”

Us: “The gays?”

Them: “Yes. Your morally devoid friends.”

Us: “That I met volunteering?”

Them: “At a women’s clinic where they have ABORTIONS. YES.”

Us: “They also treat all sorts of mental health and fertility -“

Them: “I will not listen to your justifications of baby murder. Honestly. They should just cage those women up like the filthy immigrants bringing the china virus defying our LAWS-“

Us: “Actually, seeking assylum is not illegal -“

Them: “How would you know what’s legal and not? You won’t even say the pledge of allegiance!”

Us: “It is possible for me to know legal from not without pledging my allegiance to a system I was born in that I don’t necessarily agree with-“

Them: “You entitled snowflake! You could have been born in China where they kill Christians or a socialist country where your poverty is guaranteed or -“

Us: “Hear me out, though, democratic socialism is a thing -“

Them: “Of course you’re a communist! You always wore black on Easter and I always said it was bad luck and now you’re a communist. Next thing you’ll be a democrat.”

Us: *Silence*

Them: *whisper* “You didn’t.”

Us: “At this point what on earth do you think I would vote for that abuser -“

Them: “Biden is only being used by the Clintons! He’s not right in the head! He can’t even finish a sentence!”

Us: “Have you… no, you know what – I really just will not sit here and listen to extremely ignorant and certifiably false statements that cause harm to people I love anymore.”

Them: “How DARE you be ungrateful for all that we have done for you!?”

*The above conversation is a amalgamation of many conversations I have had with many family members over the past 4 years in which I realized that people I once looked up to have gone COMPLETELY off the rails and I don’t want them anywhere near my life or my family.

And granted, I am still close with family members I don’t see eye to eye with. This is not about striking a match with every relative you have a disagreement with. This is about removing yourself from endless cycles of insanity.

And protecting your kids from it too.

I have no doubt that one day my kids are going to be quite livid with me about choices I made about their childhood. I have definitely yelled (and apologized) to my mom about it and forgave her and acknowledged she was doing the best she could. I hope my kids give me the same grace, someday. Because we all fuck up. I apologize to my kids at least every week. I recieve apologies from them at least once a week. We, none of us, are perfect. But we keep trying.

We don’t belittle them for who they are.

We don’t take every mistake as a personal insult.

We don’t punish them for being different than us.

We don’t try to force them into believing anything under threat of eternal torture.

We do not start crying and yelling when they ask us for an apology or point out a wrong we did.

We do not place our convenience above their health.

In conclusion: I have tried, and tried, and tried to keep the peace. If the peace is dependent on me being ignored, belittled, and attacked – Fuck the peace. That is not a peace worth keeping. And these are not people allowed on my island, in my bliss, in my safe spaces, or – absolutely necessarily – in positions of authority or privilege with my kids.

Sharp Knives

I have let a lot of things and a lot of people disturb my bliss. Parents to classmates to teachers to – I’m ashamed to admit it – fellow parishioners, boyfriends, lady friends, girlfriends, and siblings. Hell, even a few times some random people at the grocery store. But I am thankful to be able to say that the last decade has actually taught me some lessons that I’ve successfully absorbed.

One of them was beautifully and succinctly put by a good friend the other day. “Sometimes,” she said, “you have to guard your bliss with many sharp knives.”

I had been asking her advice in a situation in which I mostly knew the answer, but it was difficult to see entirely clearly. The conclusion was definitely, and absolutely to keep the person requesting re-entry into my life quite out of it.

Which I found particularly interesting considering the reconciliation that had happened less than a month ago. The circumstances were eerily similar. Two e-mails, two relationships that had ended around a year ago, two women that I had once valued as dear friends.

And two very different answers. The first damn near broke my eyelids as my eyes popped open, consumed the e-mail in record time, reread it in order to confirm it was really there, and then fired off an apology and an acceptance together before my lips had touched a single drip of coffee.

The other I sat with uncomfortably for days, trying to see past the plea in the e-mail that was tugging at me to remember the relationship that my gut was telling me might cause far more harm than good.

And it has led me to evaluate both current and former relationships in new ways. While we all have established patterns, so many of which need healing, there are relationships that go in circles, and relationships that move forward. Like tree growth, personal growth can also be measured in how far we reach down and how far we reach up. Relationships that go in circles are not introspective, nor straining for anything. They are cycles of repeated patterns that are destructive and increasingly draining.

Whereas relationships that grow… can change those habits. When a destructive pattern is recognized, it is changed. It is named. It is recognized. And ownership is taken for its consequences.

And if there is one thing my friendship group has been learning, it’s cutting people out who do not take ownership for their actions. Be it shitty parents, in-laws, neighbors, old friends, or partners. Because it is those people, trapped in their own cycles of destruction that will wreak havoc on your bliss. They will crash through it like a cat on adderal at 3am and then blame the dog. And they will do it over and over again.

Your bliss, by the way, is your peace of mind, your life’s stability and general calm. I like to think of my bliss as my dining room table at dinner. When we are all around it, sharing a meal, the voices of my favorite people, resting in each other, investing in each other, and recharging. People who wreck it are bringing divides into it, stealing your rest, silencing voices, or bringing so much of their own chaos that your bliss is lost in the background.

And we all deal with this at one time or another. We all put up with inconveniences to our bliss. Like that judgmental aunt at Thanksgiving, it happens. But that aunt isn’t in our daily life, because if she was we’d be murderers. And that’s bad.

But it isn’t always as easy to see as Aunt Mc-Why-Are-You-Still-Single? It can be friends who are in your life because you are an anchor while it feels like their life is spinning out of control. It can be an ex who wants to relive the drama. It can be your parents refusing to see you as an independent adult. It can be a controlling partner.

And even more confusing, sometimes we are all shitty to one another at times, or need an anchor in our lives, or have to be divisive in another person’s bliss when we see something hurting them that they refuse to acknowledge – nothing about human interactions is easy or clear cut.

And a lot of us did not have the protection from our parents or nuclear family that we should have growing up. And I think it is that realization more than anything that got me. I have to keep this place safe for them. This blissful time together, their world, my energy given to them, our home, in everything I can, I will give them peace. So that they know what peace is. So that as they get older they can protect their own peace, their own home, their own bliss. Whether their bliss is polyamory or monogamy, heterosexual or homosexual, single or partnered, kids or no, adopted or no, artist or accountant, vegan or keto – they can be themselves. Safely. Peacefully. Blissfully.

It is the only way to keep ourselves sane enough to be the activist humans the world needs. We have to have a safe place to go. And we have to protect it with the word “no”. No, you cannot talk to me that way. No, I will not be the person you text when you’re drunk. No, you cannot say that to my child. No. No. No.

Our words can be the sharpest knives we have, and the strongest binding we posses. Use them wisely.

Or, use them to promote baseless conspiracy theories on social media and delegitimize a democracy for the sake of your cult. Really, up to you.

Which of us is piglet?

Tonight

driving the distance between our homes

having exchanged pie for curry

for just a moment

I lived in the hundred acre wood

and nothing was complicated

and life was a simple, beautiful pure truth

spoken by a small child, saying

“because she’s one of your very best friends”

and me, tearing up a little bit from being able to say

“Yea, buddy, she really is.”

Full Stop Part 1

TW: Misquoted scripture used to invalidate the experience of pretty much everyone in order to force a narrative that leaves old white men in power.

A good friend of mine is currently dealing with – you know what no. I cannot even say they are well meaning but misguided. They are willfully ignorant. They prefer the sound of their own voices as demonstrated by their removal of themselves from social media sites that flag misinformation to the unchecked echo chamber that is @^%&#%@ and their refusal to cite CNN or AP or MSNBC as credible sources but personally uploaded youtube videos are the golden standard. They have no room in their hearts from any truth that is not the bullshit coated, dubious translations of a dead brown man that they have been swallowing for decades. There. I said it. Let’s try again.

My good friend is dealing with internet trolls who happen to be related to her and at one point we both remember them being not so awful. So this one is for her. This one is going to scripture by scripture tear down this false narrative and burn it to the ground. It is going to be the script for anyone who ever feels as if these scriptures are being used to invalidate their experiences. Let’s get to it.

I am scripture by scripture refuting a post by David Jeremiah, a televangelist who announces in this post that he has never experienced inconvenience, let alone adversity, as this was the post used by the trolls mentioned above. Let us explore.

The first quoted material is found in Matthew 6:28-30, Jesus says:

So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

I know we’ve been told this is about not worrying our entire lives, but let us imagine that Jesus wasn’t saying “Everyone with faith will get clothed. Except those poor people over there. Nobody look at them.” Because that has never made any goddamn sense but saying “Guys. Trends change. No one gives a shit what you’re wearing. Look at your skin because its fucking magnificent. You are all so astoundingly beautiful. Don’t let any asshole in a Roman Times Gucci tunic tell you otherwise.” Because as the illegitimate son from a backwater town during a military occupation of their ethnic group and ancestral lands – I’m guessing Jesus was not magically unaware that death, poverty, and inequality were, have been, and sadly would continue to be rampant on earth.

Jesus was not a sociopath, probably. From all accounts, he genuinely seems to care about people. So when Mr. Jeremiah ends his mind numbingly pathological post with “He would never suffer and die for the same children He planned to neglect.” There are only two takeaways. 1) Jesus is utterly powerless because literal thousands of actual children die everyday (1) or 2) If you die young, if you die from poverty, or inequality, or murder, or tragedy, or you know – an act of god – its because you were never one of gods children and he cares for your life less than the animals he allows to remain alive. Your choice.

Now, to provide continuing guidance of all things bullshittery in your life, he lists 17 (he says 18 but one of them is from the above quotation and I’m not repeating myself anymore than necessary) verses for building courage. Which, I guess is supposed to be the opposite on anxiety? Weird. Anyway. Because I know these verses are going to be used by internet trolls the world over – let’s go over each and every one so that you know what to say the next time someone tries to use one of these to invalidate your experience and shut you up.

Deuteronomy 33:25 As your days, so shall your strength be.

For context, this is taken out of the old testament and is in the center of a long winded speech by Moses to bless the 12 tribes of Israel – in this verse, specifically, the tribe of Asher. Even weirder, it’s only half the sentence. The full sentence reads “The bolts of your gate will be iron and bronze” and then follows with “as your days, so shall your strength be.” Granted, I cannot make any fool proof critique on what appears to be an ancient idiom, but considering I have no gate and no ties to the tribe of Asher – this seems out of context for someone telling me to not worry so much.

Psalm 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.

This one especially pisses me off. Misquoting, decontexualizing menagerie feces – this one is constantly used to tell others to suppress any negative feelings – be it depression, anxiety, anger, helplessness, etc. I feel like the first 4 verses of this particular psalm are *rather* important contexually.

43 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
    against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?

Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.

The singer of this psalm is straight up calling God out and saying he/she will return to praising when he/she is *vindicated*. So no. The meaning behind this scripture is not to “Turn your frown upside down” but to yell at your god until he makes it better. You’re welcome.

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

I’m not going to quote the whole thing because it’s 23 verses long. I will, however, sum up. “God, these fuckers are pissing me off. Why have you allowed such rampant fucking injustice? What the hell?” And I know that this is not a man praying for a peaceful end to the liars he specifically calls out *AHEM Trumpers AHEM* because the Psalm literally ends like this.

Psalm 55:23 But you, O God, will cast them down
    into the pit of destruction;
men of blood and treachery
    shall not live out half their days.
But I will trust in you.

So, when God starts bloodbathing people for warmongering – then we can trust in him.

Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

This one comes on the heels of the first speech, quoted above, but both of those are taken out of context from a whole chapter that is about humble giving. (We’ve referenced this before, it’s the opposite of Performative Holiness aka what Donald Trump does when he ‘donates his salary to charity’ (2) while golfing on the dime of taxpayers and lining his own pockets with each vacation. Also, not divesting from his business interests for his entire presidency.)

Also importantly, the verse immediately preceeding this lesson on anxiety is the again, often misquoted, Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

(Sorry, have to pause here for my polyamorous fam. I’ve had this one quoted at me many a time. I cannot possibly love both of my partners, right? You can easily debunk this one by a) your partner is sure as shit not your master and b) just ask them if you can love your parents – both of them? – and your inlaws? Or just one of your kids? Yea, it’s clearly not about who you can love. Awesome. Next.)

Wait, what? Jesus was talking to rich ass people right before he was talking about not worrying about what you will wear? That’s not a lecture to a person wondering how they will afford a new pair of shoes for their growing kid – that’s a sass to a man more interested in his clean pressed tunic than on those suffering around him. So…this whole speech was to rich people? Yes. Yes it was. It is actually taken from a group of rather random sermon summations entitled “the sermon on the mount” which is not, actually, one long winded sermon. Considering he addresses multiple groups throughout the ‘speech’ I think it is important to consider the context of each snippet and the ones around it.

So directly after this ‘today has its open problems’ bit, he instructs us not to judge. To not “see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

So to be suuuuuper clear – these ‘do not be anxious’ quotes are smack dab directly in the middle of him lecturing rich people and judgmental assholes. So he’s not lecturing people who have anxiety disorders, or struggle with depression. He’s… he’s attacking the religious elite. Those who have to appear pure, and constantly try to ‘help’ other people out of their sin’ while ignoring their own blatant hypocrisy. Noted. Hey Mr. Jeremiah, you might want to take notes.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Oh Lord, this one. This one has been used to keep people down and poor more times than I have heard the word purity ring used at a 13 year old girl’s birthday party. Paul goes on to thank the church of Philippians in the following verses for being the ONE church to send him money. Repeatedly. This is not him lecturing them on what they ought to do, but blessing them for what they have done. In the same way we send thank you cards in which we say, “Thank you! I hope all your wishes come true.” is the way he is ending this lengthly missel.

Let me be very frank – the peace that passes understanding is not a gift to the unanxious hungry, those trapped by debt but somehow carefree, but to those who have to cut off their family members because they erode their self worth into the darkest pits of despair with their inability to love freely and without condition. It is a gift to those who have discovered that thier god is not the horrible man in the sky they were taught he was, but that they are truly made in her image – gender nonconforming and loves on the whole spectrum.

Part 2 is next!

Unfuck Yourself: Co-Dependency Edition

Stumbled across an instagram post yesterday about how Christian women are raised to become co-dependent on purpose. And that hit hard because it’s true. *Please note, in this blog, whenever I refer to christianity I am referring to White American Evangelical Christianity.*

Being asked to be a wife is the #1 priority in a young woman’s life. Honestly, the sooner the better. She is available once she becomes 18 and the most blessed often have proposals before 22. Those who don’t are often reassured that their lives will ‘begin soon’ and they are encouraged to continue ‘preparing themselves’ for marriage. From the time they begin dreaming about Disney princes they are directed onto a path of strict, though confusing and often contradictory, path of purity in which they ‘wait’ for their future beloved and do little else but attempt to prepare for that time. Prayer for one’s future beloved, purity for one’s self, and the continuing pursual of selflessness – the only crown a woman can wear once she gives her purity away for the ability to have children.

The more burnt out the better. She should be so satisfied by her life and her Jesus that the thought of keeping any of herself for herself is anathema and her entire focus is her children (god willing) and her husband. She should rise before him to pray for him and prepare for his day. The day should be spent as much at home as possible, keeping the home while the man works, and to prepare for his arrival. Once home, because of his sacrifice to leave the home for her and thusly blessing her to stay there, everything should revolve around him.

She is most likely his sole emotional support, and this is as it should be. Male emotional intimacy is closely tied to his sexuality, and thusly he usually only leans on those he is having sex with. Or wants to have sex with. All other relationships are most likely superficial, or, in the cases of deep feelings for beloved parents or grandparents, often muted in their emotional give and take.

I have been married for going on 8 years and while I realize that there are many who have been married longer than I, I have been married long enough to say, “Oh, dear daughters. It’s all bullshit.”

Your life starts the minute you begin making cognizant choices. (Not trying to say it has no value before then, but no one is going to look at floppy necked babe and think that woman is living her best life.) There is no waiting for any part of it. It is all relevant and amazing and painful and no part of it is any less potent or valuable.

My life did not begin when I married. My life did not begin when I had children. My life has been roaring strongly for decades even if I had a really hard time seeing it until a few years ago. I can’t say I’m shocked that it took my husband being polyamorous to snap me out of it, because I was deep in the Koolaid and anything less than that I would have somehow blamed myself for and became an ashamed divorcee with even more self esteem issues than before.

Daughters, live your life to YOUR specifications and only your specifications. If someone wants to come into your life and join you, great. But frankly, look at your best friend and realize that is the most important relationship you are ever going to have and build your life with them. I promise you it will be a more authentic life than one built with a man who thinks he has to ask your dad for you.

We are not chattel.

And we are not responsible for our partner’s emotions. Partner had a bad day? That sucks. It is not your job to drop your life and make it better. It is their job to communicate their needs and recognize your right to meet your own needs first. Kids having a bad day? They have a tendency to do that while learning how to navigate the entire spectrum of human emotions. Doesn’t mean you need to put your self worth into their behavior and invest every ounce of your energy into their fleeting happiness.

Put. Yourself. First. It is your life. And I’m not saying think ONLY of yourself, I’m telling you what I wish I had been told when I was but a breastless child wondering when boys were going to stop being gross: it is your life. Do what you want with it. You want kids? Great, have kids. Don’t want kids? Embrace it and fuck your extended relatives that tell you when you are old you will change your mind. Know yourself, and give a giant middle finger to anyone who wants a version of you modeled after their own expectations and experiences. You want to get married? Awesome, go out there and learn about romantic, partnered you, and flirt because it is so fun. You want to make your career or life ambition your number one priority and your romantic relationships second? Or even third? Or just way down there on the list? GO FOR IT.

Please. Yourself. First.

There was a time, before polyamory, where I thought it was better to be able to look those in church in the eye, look my mom in the eye, look my extended family in the eye – at the expense of being authentic to myself. At the expense of being able to look myself in the eye.

And the weird thing is, young ones, it was when I started looking myself in the eye that I realized that I was my very own key. I thought I would lose the ability to look everyone else in the eye but I didn’t. My dignity increased. Why wouldn’t I look them in the eye? Why would I ever be worth less?

I’m not worth less because my partner is polyamorous. I’m not worth less because I am polyamorous. I am not worth less because I took sovereignty over my womb and closed it for good. I am not worth less because I saw through the bullshit and took away any mediator between myself and the divine. Nothing can make me worth less.

Not being born. Not being from another country. Not speaking another language. Not being kind. Not being educated. Not being uneducated. Not being an asshole. Tattoos. Less than flattering eyebrows. Revealing clothing. Modest clothing. Head coverings. Foul mouths. Sex positivity. Queer. Non binary. Young. Old. Somewhere in the middle. A sexual. Bi sexual. Gender fluid (you stunning beauties you).

I need you, just the way you are. Just like I need me to be me.

Let us unfuck ourselves, together. Sometimes the knots are tight and we need a little help to mentally unravel them. I am here for you.

Last thing ladies:

YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN SOMEONE’S (FUTURE OR PRESENT) WIFE.

Better Smelling Bacteria

As an ex-Christian I find myself having rather strange knee jerk reactions. For example, if I am out and about with the children (pre-COVID) and I get a scandalized look from another mother when the word fuck freely flows from my lips, my immediate reaction is not to look down, or away, or mutter an apology. My immediate reaction is to look her straight in the eye and say it louder and clearly enunciate.

But I have a harder time navigating spirituality in it’s various forms and traditions because of this very kind of knee jerk reaction. The concept of “spiritual hygiene” for instance. I can hardly read the words without revulsion. If it’s immediately followed by “cleanse yourself after sex” I must immediate put down the book and come back later. Because after 28 years of Christian oppression, I won’t crack open the door, even the slightest bit, that sexuality, and the body, are any less holy or clean than pure spirit and energy. I will bathe in the sex juices of my partners before I will feel ashamed of my pleasure, my connection, or my body and all of its functions.

Even during the attempted brainwashing, some part of me knew it was bullshit. I used to get in arguments with my cousin about it all the time. We went to church at least 3x a week and every time I was expected to dress up to some degree and at one point I just refused. I was going to wear holey jeans and an oversized, paint stained sweatshirt. Because why on earth would the vast and sole god of the universe give half of a shit about what I, a twelve year old girl going to a rural church in Arkansas, was wearing?

It took me longer to see the through the gnosticism buried in the doctrine of female purity. Virginity is sacred and something to be lost or taken. AIt defines a woman’s worth until it is bartered away. Women have to cleanse themselves spiritually after menstruating, as if the act of not being pregnant is somehow dirty. Women have to cleanse after childbirth, and for absolutely no reason, have to cleanse themselves for longer if they birth a female child. As if the act of childbirth is not in itself a holy baptism for mother and child. Women have to be careful to not arouse men by constantly hiding their bodies. Women have to be careful to constantly arouse men by having those bodies fit male ideas of beauty so as to have any worth at all.

And just like twelve year old me, I refuse. Our bodies are gifts, not perversions. Their functions are mystical, spiritual, and frankly often hilarious. I will not wipe every trace of my humanity away before I approach the divine. I wear this soul garment proudly. I show off every scar, every stretch mark, every chunk of cellulite, every wrinkle, every laugh line. I am proud of my empty womb, and delight in the pleasure and moisture that I receive at any time I choose. I delight in my lips and the ability to speak, but also to kiss. Both are blessings. Hands are made for touching, arms for holding, skin for feeling, and clitorises for exploding. How in god’s name is it somehow more honorable to ignore all of those things, to not only pretend they don’t exist, but actively suppress them in order to be closer to the divine? Talk about spitting at the feet of the gift giver.

Because there is only one reason I have been able to think of that makes any sense. Control. Deny yourself. Denounce yourself. Hide yourself. And do what is mandated to save your soul.

And to that trumpet call of blasphemous patriarchy, I do what I do to judgmental mom’s at the playground. I look it in the eye, and I enunciate. Loudly.

“Fuck. Off.”

That being said, I do have to agree that if you are setting up an ancestor altar, your bedroom might not be the wisest choice. Not because sex is somehow dirty or wrong, but because in the same way I literally cannot wrap my head around the fact that my parents ever did that, let alone to each other, my grandma most likely does not have a kink for watching me do it.

And also, if one has a tooty booty, like myself, and perhaps not get through an entire meditation session without releasing some healthy bodily gasses, incense might be your friend. Again, not because it is unholy, just because the smell might be.

Look, if the deities that be wanted it to be an act of worship they would have made better smelling bacteria. The end.

1,600 sq. ft. and still no place for towels

Tonight is a short rant. Like a long tweet for the precise reason that I am not concise. I have my gripes with every generation except Millenials because we are perfect. The end.

But tonight I’m not going to talk about the skyrocketing cost of education, how hypocritical it is to march for unborn babies while denying their born counterparts and their parents the ability to thrive or even survive, why Cheeto Satan should be the death knell for evangelical christianity instead of its poster boy, or why grandma can’t understand why I like kissing girls. No, today I’m ranting about popcorn ceilings. Because WHY?

WHY WAS THIS EVER A THING? You know what we should put on the ceiling, Brenda? SHIT. Shit that is going to catch every speck of dust flying around here. And we’ll do it FOR FASHION.

And while we’re at it, Bob, let’s design houses in the literal dumbest way possible and waste as much space as we can. IT’S BRILLIANT.

Understandably, you might have guessed from this post that my house has popcorn ceilings and storage issues and you would be correct. But so does every single house that every single friend I have, regardless of age, gender, or location lives in. They were all designed spectacularly poorly. And honestly, I have not the foggiest understanding of why.

How does such poor design make money? Surely it doesn’t save it. You could house double the families in the same amount of space if someone just thought to themselves, “I bet these people use towels in the bathroom. Let’s plan for that.” Instead, the designers of my home decided that it was a most excellent idea to make the entryway a narrow hallway of, I shit you not, 12 feet and include a small, useless closet whose door opens out to block any entry into the home. It’s some fucking brilliant stuff.

I once visited a friend in Germany and stayed with her and her family in their townhome and while the size of the garages did indeed give me anxiety, those houses were amazing. It was the most practical, convenient, and honestly beautiful design I have ever seen. Every square inch had a purpose and a function. There was storage everywhere. Everything made sense. A family of 5 lived, extremely comfortably, in half the square footage of my home in which we trip over each other constantly while I begin to stroke a mustache I don’t have and fire up the chainsaw in a desperate attempt to avoid another meltdown over storage space.

If you find yourself asking, are you one of those tiny home people? Please know my answer is no. I’m not saying we should all get by on a meticulously planned 100 sq ft because frankly, I like baths too much and also, I have a tooty booty and want my partners to stay in love with me. But this whole ‘Here’s some space let’s fuck it up with shit tile, textured surfaces, and awkward closets’ has got to go.

If there is one thing that the next generation that has wealth to build custom homes and/or own a home building company does (no worries, Gen Z, you’re right in the fucked boat with us, but maybe one day there will rise a new breed of human that understands that water and air are more important than hoarding billions)- please, please, for the sanity of every person – design houses for people to actually live in them. End rant.

How I Stay Grounded

Here’s the thing about my long term relationship that I adore – the highs and lows plateau out. I’m not saying that there aren’t highs and lows anymore, I’m just saying that we’ve got a relatively high cruising altitude with occasional turbulence.

And sometimes, I admit, that can seem rather extraordinary. Because the same issues that cause us minor turbulence can be the very issues that crash other planes. So how is it done, healthily? Because you do not keep a plane cruising that high by ignoring boundaries, not communicating, and distancing yourself from intimacy and vulnerability.

I’ve sat and thought about it for more hours than I can count – and there is going to be a separate post about repetitive work and why its so important for our brains – but it boils down to two key factors.

The first is experience. I am coming up on 8 years into this relationship. We have only been at cruising altitude for the past 2-ish. Before we hit this plateau our plane looked like one of those NASA prep flights where it was literally nothing but steep ups and plummeting downs. And not to mince words, we almost crashed that jet into the ground at least twice.

This ‘grounding’ that others see is not some type of achieved zen, if anything, it is pure exhaustion from having lived through a vomit comet. I have smashed things. I have yelled in the front yard. I have had meltdowns, breakdowns, and spent days sobbing. Some of them were appropriate responses – others were not. (Did I break down sobbing in tears and declare “Why do you hate me? I can never live up to your standards!” after being asked if he could help me get caught up on laundry? Why yes, yes I did.) Here’s the thing, though. I got those emotions out. I felt them. I lived them. I reasoned through them. And our relationship survived every single one.

So now, when something happens that would have sent us plunging before I have the ability to look back and see all of the other things we have survived and really, truly ask myself – is this going to crash us? Or do we just need a conversation and a course correct?

This also affords me the perspective to see how many things we have survived from me that might have crashed us, and how my partner handled those things. Did he stand by me when I made mistakes? Did he create distance and give me a hefty penance? Or did he come close and reassure me and help me do better? And at every instance asking myself this vitally important question, “What kind of partner do I want to be?”

The second is the single most important lesson I have learned about life.

Other people’s choices are not about me.

Including my partners. Especially my partners.

Do their choices sometimes affect me? Absolutely. Can I be justifiably hurt by them? You bet. Was hurting me the reason they made those choices? 110% No.

In this way, we are often living out subconscious inner childhood issues. When our kids are giving us a hard time, they are often having a hard time. This is not a full pass for an endless stream of selfish choices from adults, this is an insight into healing for both parties.

When I was overwhelmed and turned to alcohol, was I trying to hurt my partners? Not even a little. Were they hurt by it? Yes. Did I need to consciously choose to stop, permanently, and take their feelings into consideration while doing so? Also, yes. But it was very important that they understood my destructive choices, while hurting them, were not aimed at them. It helped me heal by being able to focus on myself and where the overwhelm was originating from. It helped our relationship heal by moving the focus from the hurt to the root. It helped them because they were able to understand that I wasn’t trying to hurt them, even though I did.

When these two lessons are taken hand in hand, it takes A LOT to tank that plane. It takes deliberate, planned actions to take that bad boy down. And that’s not the kind of relationship we have, that’s not who we are, that’s not who we have worked to become.

How do I stay grounded? I have complete and utter trust that while I might not agree with every decision my co-pilot makes, he is never going to try and crash the plane.

*Crack*

Can you be baptized by Ke$ha? Because that’s definitely what I feel like right now. I turned “Raising Hell” to max in my car and belted my lungs out every time the lyrics “If you couldn’t tell, we can always find the trouble we don’t need no help. Oh, my mama raised me well, I don’t want to go to heaven without raising hell!”

A flood of imagery came with each repetition – Rep. John Lewis and his ‘good trouble’. The ancestor altar I just set up to heal the spirits of my family line. Falling in love with Satya. Looking at my lifemate after we had dragged each other to hell and back and feeling like I was really seeing him for the first time – and loving him. Having sex long after the surgery that removed my ability to conceive children just. because. it. feels. good. Feeling the conviction of all the pain and destruction I have cause BIPOC just by “living my life” unaware. Telling toxic people in my life to fuck off.

And I swear to goddess, as I was rocking the fuck out to this song – something in me broke. I’ve been struggling against the chains I’ve felt weighing me down, each one inscribed with some bullshit doctrine about original sin, physical demonization, female subjugation, performative holiness, co-opted capitalism, etc for years. And every time I raised my voice to speak my truth it has shaken. I don’t like confrontation. I don’t like people who once liked me not liking me anymore. I don’t like disappointing family. I was a straight A, national debate champion, virginal good girl, over achiever for so much of my life. Arguments over text flooded me with stress sweat. But in this moment, I was overcome with the peace that passes understanding.

My family is my framily and we don’t expect each other to stay if we starting hurting each other. Humans are pack animals, we need our groups. But for too long the concept of family has been held over people like a guillotine instead of the safety net it’s meant to be. If raising my voice to speak my truth, to speak the truth of others, causes anyone to be ashamed of me – the doors are open. No one stays here unless they want to be here.

So here is my proclamation. The chains have fallen. They broke. And they’re not going back on, ever. I have two romantic loves of my life – and we are perfect just the way we are. My framily is my group and we do not threaten each other’s autonomy. We are activists and it is worship.

And while I do not believe in heaven, even if I did – that is NOT the goal, fam. The goal is to bring heaven to earth, to make earth a place of peace and justice – PEACE ON EARTH and goodwill toward men. NOT “close your eyes and wait until it’s over.” I rebuke that shit.

I have so many essays to write and points to make but this one, this one, is about me. This one is about my baby steps that have led me out of the darkness, each one in direct opposition to what I was told about truth and light.

Fell in love with a woman. Stayed in love with a man. Began healing my ancestral line, refusing to believe that we are beyond help after death. Stepping into my own priesthood. Began drawing healthy boundaries with people who shared pieces of my DNA (and held to them, even when they began to rail against them). Began to break the mold of the dutiful, quiet, obedient woman and embraced the wild, fierce, priestess that was my birthright. Threw out traditions that didn’t serve me and made new ones to my own liking. Smashed some stuff and gave a voice to my anger. Loved myself without permission and with total abandon (even and especially the pudge, wrinkles, stretchmarks, sagging, and body hair). Refused to believe I was cursed from birth, that my children were cursed from birth, and that our sole life’s mission was to save ourselves and await a holy reckoning. Danced naked in the moonlight around a fire. (Okay so not yet but its on my list.)

I am not ashamed of myself. The scales finally fell from my eyes and I was no longer comparing myself to what I was told I must be in order to be good.

I saw myself, exactly as I was made, following my own path hand in hand with my Spirit and it was good. It is great.

I am holy.

And I am dancing with my tits out, loudly and without abandon, breaking my own chains and howling at the moon while I reach across generations and through decades or murky trauma bullshit to build a new now, and a new future and continue to become the healer I am made to be, lit by the fire of all the lies and oppression and chains and pollution that have kept us quiet.

I am only getting louder.

And the fire is only getting bigger.