Monthly Archives: March 2013

14 posts

Nerd-Flu and PAX East: The Lines

So I’m home. Yesterday I was completely exhausted and had a sore throat, today I’m still currently nyquil induced which is hindering my cold status updates, but a little cold is a small price to pay for the amount of AWESOME that took place over the weekend.
I walked ALL THE STEPS, stood in ALL THE LINES (okay 4) and had so much fun! I saw the Future of D&D Panel and the Dungeon Master’s panel with Chris Perkins, listened to a talk about sound design in gaming (and everything else), went to the Gearbox panel and got a box, watched the Penny Arcade Q&A which was awesome and hilarious, went to the Friday night concerts, ate some cookies, ate lots of con food, attempted to walk the Expo floor on Friday which mostly consisted of me not being able to see much, saw it all on Sunday with less people. Acquired a me-sized bag, some Penny Arcade loot including the BEST scarf I own, got some pins, tested Neverwinter (SO EXCITED ABOUT IT), took all the pictures, followed the cosplayers, and sat on the floor. But now, for the pictures.

Only had Friday and Sunday tickets, so we spent Saturday exploring Boston. We went to eat at a little hole in the wall place called Coda that served breakfast until 3, which was *awesome*. Went to the movies, and the theater had an escalator in it like that Portlandia sketch, Prudential Center was a discovery last time we were there, and it sort of became our base – it’s warm, big, you can walk over streets, we hung out there for a while – also the Cheesecake factory is there, and we discovered avocado eggrolls(!!!!).

Unsafe Places

Churches are not safe. I can’t step into one without coming up with an escape plan and spending a majority of the time warding off a panic attack. The families (particularly if the church is made of up of mostly families, with multiple children under 10), the songs, communion, the language in the preaching – the whole experience is still so very riddled and damaged by my past and I can’t see through it.

It doesn’t help that, for a supposedly “spiritually dark” place, the majority of churches seem to be very conservative/evangelical rife with things that make my insides scream and want to run away and/or throw up in the church bathroom. When I do go to church, which is rare and only for special family events (because, panic attacks) I shut down and distance myself as much as possible.

Language in the church is so loaded I can’t even begin to describe it in concise terms, it just is. I hear my past in my head – I can’t read the bible, the KJV I avoid like the plague. Communion scares the crap out of me, and I exit as soon as I can when that’s announced because I can’t bring myself to do it. Because I can’t do it sincerely, and I was doomed to hell if I ever did it wrong. I can’t sing, and some of the songs bring back so many harsh memories, I freeze when Blessed Be Your Name plays because of the theology that went along with it – glorifying a god who takes things away because he can. It doesn’t set well anymore. This particular song brings me back to my stillborn siblings, because this was their song in many ways.

I feel very alone. Because I can not, cannot believe in the god I used to believe in, in the god that all my new church experiences still proclaim (intentionally, or no. I can’t tell, because again, language barriers) I don’t hold it against them, and I usually assume the best (if I know the pastor) – but needless to say conservative churches are not good places for me.

I feel a lot of hate stemming from the christianity (and people who practice it) I used to know, and I feel like that can’t be what it’s about. If it is, I have no qualms with abandoning it as the only reason I became a christian was due to fear (pascal’s gamble, much?). Why is it that realizing the motivation for christianity (and other religions) is based on love and maybe that’s what we should be focusing on instead of hate so…wrong?
You can’t even google liberal christianity without an over

whelming amount of results pointing out that its wrong or not real, if not made a mockery of – “hippie touchy feel-y love”. But what’s so wrong with that? What’s wrong with love and acceptance instead of fear and falsely justified hate? It’s hard because all of my life I’ve heard it made fun of – the one thing I hope to be true. That god is not evil like I was taught, because how could that god not be evil? To want people to love him because they are afraid of death and hell. I don’t want to waste my time on a tyrannical misogynist deity.

I can’t go to church because my faith in humanity and the pieces of my soul that have been restored start to die. I can’t go to church because I can’t get past the hate, misogyny, and cruel nature of a deity who’s supposed to be loving. I can’t go to church because the atmosphere is so riddled with fear and judgement that I feel stifled. I can’t go to church because I am not accepted there.

I find that I still accept the idea of a deity, but in a more hands off way – I feel like the message of religion is all centered around the same thing: loving our fellow human beings. And I’ve found that I can accept that, I can do that, I want to do that even. If there is no god and I love my fellow man I have lived a good life, if there is a god and its not the christian god then I have still lived a good life (and assuming the deity is loving, just, and kind, or karma, I won’t have anything to worry about) and if the christian god does exist in the way I hope, from the New Testament, then I expect I’ll be greeted with “well done”.

I just want to love people, and be loved – accept and be accepted. Is that so wrong?

I don’t think church will be safe for me for a very long time; if it ever is, it will be because I’ve found someplace that is accepting to all people, and loving to all people, without inducing guilt, employing fear tactics, or excommunicating people they believe to be “in sin” (actually if they talk about people being “in sin” I won’t be going there. period).

By the time this is posted I’m going to be at PAX East, I’d like to reply to comments by friendlies but won’t be able to until Monday, so please be patient.

For those about to leave freaked out, angry comments or determine the status of my salvation:
1) don’t waste your breath
2) shut the hell up
3) It’s my business alone and not yours
4) I’m at peace with where I’m at and I’m working through everything in my own time, the best thing you can do is leave me alone about it and just accept my journey as my journey

I Don't Pray Anymore

When I was 10 and we were well into our left-the-cult-but-still-kept-everything-but-demons days we started going to church again. After being told churches in general were evil, it was weird going back to the buildings. My church experience was never great, we were never at one long enough to belong, because the pastor would say something and my parents would have a disagreement and we’d either leave or be asked to leave. I occasionally had time to make friends before we were shunned and never spoken to again. It was lonely, to say the least.

In September of 2001, 10 days after the trade centers fell, we had another reminder of the love of god – my mom had a stillborn. A boy, which was special because I only had one brother and at the time there were 3 girls including me (and another boy meant we’d have a chance of carrying on the family name, because that was somehow important..I remember that remark being made before). He died in the birth canal with the cord wrapped around his neck – he suffocated. My siblings and I were sick with the flu at my grandparents house, so it was just my mom and dad (homebirths were unassisted, always) at home and they called and had us come home and told us the baby died.

They showed us the blue and purple and red body, my mom was holding and touching it and wanted us all to hold it. I flat out refused, grossed out by the thought of touching a cold corpse (in who knows what state of decay *shudder*) I went to lay down and when I woke up a few hours had passed and the police and paramedics were there. I remember seeing strange people walking around while I was on the couch kinda delirious from being sick and dead baby, I think they tried to ask me something but I just mumbled something about just getting there and not knowing what happened and being sick. They were very very nice to me and understanding (which was comforting because I was scared), they took the corpse and my mom sobbed. I didn’t understand, I didn’t understand why they kept the corpse around for so long.

By the time the funeral had come around, maybe a week later, the paramedics had labeled it SIDS, which I came to understand as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. My parents said that this was all part of gods plan and nothing could have been done to stop it. My dad somehow worked the love of god and the salvation message into the eulogy, talking about how it was a good thing, and told us kids how this would be a good opportunity to get my catholic grandparents to convert.

I didn’t cry.

I didn’t cry for many reasons, one was because I learned early on that crying was weakness, but also, because I truly believed with all my heart that god was going to bring the baby back, I prayed sooo hard and didn’t want to leave the graveyard because I knew that there was going to be a miracle, I had the faith of a mustard seed – though it felt like more; I didn’t know what a mustard seed was, but I figured I could be moving mountains because I believed it so much. That there would be cries of life before the coffin was lowered into the ground and everyone would be surprised.

But as we left and the grave-people were getting ready to bury the coffin, there was no noise, just silence.

This didn’t bother me until years later, I just assumed that maybe I didn’t have enough faith even though I thought I did and gave it all I could muster.

Cut To: 2004
Valentines day (2 weeks before my 13th birthday), 7am, we were all there this time. I was woken up and told to keep the kids under control/fed/etc as mom was in labor in the master bathroom. I popped on cartoons and fed the kids and those things that you do while trying to pretend you can’t hear the screams and noises of labor.

The worst happened. We all heard it, “BREATHE” was shouted over and over again and silence fell.  Color drained from our faces. I don’t remember any sequence of events after that, the memory is locked somewhere, but I remember touching this corpse (girl this time) because it seemed to be important to mom. Still cold and blue and purple and pink and gross. It was the same cause; strangulation, the paramedics labeled it SIDS again, but I think we were at our grandparents house when they showed up because I don’t remember interacting with them. My grandparents did their best to comfort us and just let it all sink in. They’re good at that, at giving us what we need and being generally unassuming. I don’t think they know how much that means to us.

My mom said, later, that she felt god telling her that he did this because he loved her, this was his way of saying I love you. It was her valentines present, taking the baby. Same weird salvation, this is good, this is love, etc message was preached at her funeral too – another opportunity for my grandparents to convert, and a few months later they did, so it was all seen as a wash and “worth it”. We laid her to rest beside my brothers grave. I didn’t pray for her return this time, I figured that Lazerous and Jesus were probably just one time things.

Honestly it’s the questions that got to me most. Because every pregnancy since the first stillbirth, my siblings (who were around to remember) have asked “is this baby going to be born alive?”. The thought of them asking that and me having no answer, and mom and dad’s pat answers still make me cry and my blood run cold. I hate that it’s even a question that had to be asked.

Cut To: 2007-2008
My life had become a living hell. I was 16-17, I was growing into an adult, forming my own opinions and, to their credit (and chagrin) my parents didn’t raise a weak daughter. My boyfriend-now-husband and I were in this process called “courting” à la Josh Harris. I don’t remember where my parents heard of the idea, probably a homeschool convention that also included HSLDA and Mike Farris. For those unfamiliar, it’s like, trying to date but with your whole relationship being micromanaged and manipulated by control freaks and outsiders who have no interest in the relationship itself, just in dictating things without taking the time to get to know anyone.

In our case it went from my parents trying to marry me off at 16 because as soon as the word “relationship” entered it was like wedding bells were ringing. At 17 my mom got pregnant and the cycle of my existence as a person ended (again) and my existence as my mother’s sentient broom began – only this time, I fought back. I was just getting into my personhood after a decade of not having one.

I was dragged out of bed and cornered and bullied by my parents for hours. Told I wasn’t being godly enough, told I was a better daughter and better skilled when I was 8, that Alex was generally evil, and corrupting me, that I was on my way to hell and had better shape up, that god disapproved and I needed to make it right. It was my DUTY to end my life and be a live-in slave to my parents whenever they demanded it. That because I was a woman/younger, THEY heard from god for me, and there was no way I knew for myself what was best for me, and god wouldn’t tell me something against their will.

Unfortunately for them, they spent the 6 months prior drilling into me that I was an adult and capable of making my own decisions. I quickly came to the conclusion that people didn’t have the power to bestow and then relinquish adulthood at the drop of a hat, or plus sign of a pregnancy test.

I was devastated when my mom told me she was pregnant. No, not devastated, enraged, panicked, and hurt. I had spent the last hellish year, and especially six months praying oh-so-hard for god to work, to make it better, to make things okay. And the result of my prayers, every single time? the problems made up by my parents just escalated, escalated, and escalated until my parents told me that I was no longer allowed to talk to Alex.

My prayers were hitting the ceiling, I felt pieces of myself dying as I spent those last six months of 17 plotting my escape and trying to fly low enough under the radar so as to not be noticed, so my near-suicidal depression wouldn’t cause room for concern and cause more squelching. I misdirected to survive, letting my parents think I was “over” Alex just to get me to my next birthday.

I felt abandoned by god, which crushed me, because I had done everything, I had given up having my own life for years, I rarely saw friends, I didn’t ask for much, I worked so hard.

Cut to: February 28 2009
I left on my 18th Birthday, I had a party away from home (that took a lot of work) and Alex and I left that night. My parents went nuts when we called them. They went from acting concerned and sad to bullying, not hesitating to pull god into it.

Cut To: March 4 2009
Newest baby was born by Cesarean due to complications and that the previous child (boy) had been an emergency C-Section. The reasons for this C-section? Umbilical cord wrapped around her neck.

I don’t think it hit me then. It hit me on the anniversary of the first stillborn. It could have been prevented. It was the same thing that killed him and the other one, but this one made it because they happened to be at a hospital. I’ve rarely been more crushed and angry than when that realization hit.

I stopped praying because my prayers didn’t do anything good, they only made things worse. I stopped praying because god obviously never listened to me. I stopped praying because I was tired of being let down and abandoned by someone who was supposed to never abandon me.
I’ve cried and wrestled and fought over this. Why didn’t god listen? was I not good enough? does he not care? if he did care, why did he let this happen? why would he abandon the fervent prayers of an innocent child, of a young adult? I don’t know, all I know is, praying has left me disillusioned, callous, and cynical.

The Cult That Changed Everything

When I was between the ages of 5 and 7 my parents joined a bible study group through a family in our homeschool group. I guess it was less of a bible study and more of a home-church, because we went to their house for hours every weekend (I can’t remember if it was Saturday or Sunday, probably Sunday). This was not very long into homeschooling, maybe a year or two – my parents, I think, had been pressured by some of the group who had an incredibly spiritual persona that they weren’t godly or spiritual enough *or* homeschooling for the right reasons (but that’s a different discussion entirely). Anyway, My brother and I, we went along to this group with our parents and sat around being really bored, eating weird tasting food, listening to whatever it was we could understand and spending the rest of the time looking at the animals and wondering why it smelled funny at their house (they had a farm, and were into healthy/organic/self-sustaining life and for some reason that has a particular smell).

I don’t remember how long it took before my parents and the other couples at the group were introduced to this program called “Cleansing Stream”. Wanting to be godly and whatever, everyone hopped on board – they “learned” how to study their bible, use a concordance, expel demons (no, I’m not kidding), and we all had to make sacrifices (my brother and I lost many a loved plushie in the name of demon expulsion, and family heirlooms which didn’t matter to *me* as much) to make sure the demons didn’t have any “footholds”. There was a little red book, and any work by the Bevere’s  makes me run the other direction. A lot of this now is instinctual, I don’t remember exactly what was taught (besides that demons could inhabit christians if they sinned, and apparently my stuffed tiger) but the ramifications have lasted…well they haven’t stopped.

My parents “left” or dropped out of the cult when they realized that the whole demon-inhabiting-christian-thing wasn’t actually biblical, but they never exited. They learned how to interpret the bible (according to the cult) and this is what became harmful. I was too young to understand anything happening at the bible study (that, or the memory is just blacked out), but the price that came with the things they learned there and after cost a lot:
Somehow god had turned from a loving being to an angry, vindictive, bastard who sent bad things to people for the fun of it, to “test” them, and “try them by fire” and somehow you knew you were loved by how miserable your life was and how much you suffered. The years following the cult were packed with much “love” from this deity.

We became increasingly isolated, we were drilled on the family beliefs, we had unassisted home-births (two of which resulted in stillborn babies – that *could* have been prevented by cesareans), we were constantly told that suffering was a good thing, that we should expect to suffer, even that not suffering was a bad thing (so anyone who good things were happening to? doomed. Anyone happy? obviously not loved by god). I was so scared to leave (and get married) because I thought for sure that after living through my own version of hell, the cycle would start all over again with my husband and our inevitable family.

We never had friends that lasted for more than a year or two – when I was finally able to make my own friends (on the internet!) I built myself a group of people I could trust, most whom I’m still friends with. The friends my parents “made” usually end up having a falling out over some doctrinal issue. We were kicked out of churches and widely hated (or so it felt) by anyone my parents disagreed with.

It grew worse as I aged, in ways I don’t yet have words for. I went from believing and being told that I could hear from god, to being told that he spoke to me through my parents (from my parents – it was convenient and self serving). I was less because I was a woman, my god-ordained-job at home was to be a caretaker to my siblings; I was brutally reminded of that pregnancy after pregnancy, child after child. I was told that my god-ordained-job as a woman, when I was married, was solely to reproduce and homeschool and give my husband sex when he wanted it (because otherwise, he’d find it somewhere else don’t ya know?). Not only that, but I had to let god plan how many kids we’d have, because “he wouldn’t give us more than we could handle” – don’t dare interfere with any kind of protection because that would be getting in the way of god’s will and that would be sinning.

I was a little self-conscious (I resisted as long as I could), but not of my own volition. My mom freaked out about facial imperfections – I have hereditary upper lip hair, my acne was worse than hers at my age, my teeth weren’t straight (supposedly, we could pray my teeth straight. true story), I didn’t wear makeup, I wore clothes a size too big so I’d “grow into them” (with a large family, you do that sometimes) even though I stopped growing when I was 15. The modesty culture was rampant, though admittedly my parents had little to do with this themselves.

Image and appearance were everything: we had (had) to look perfect and perfectly happy on the outside to everyone. We had to be good examples and witnesses, we could never complain, or have a less than perfect moment whenever we left home – if we did, there would be consequences. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up and commented to me about how perfect my family is and how “I bet you help out a lot, huh?” and I just had to stand there and smile politely, and nod, and say “yes, I don’t mind” (or a better variation) even though everything within me was screaming “no! everything is NOT okay! my family is NOT perfect!”  There was no room for human moments or authenticity (which is why I treasure them so). We had to attract people (those poor, ignorant sinners) to our lifestyle, so we had to seem perfect. I have a great smile.

The version of christianity/god I knew, “loved”, and served was egotistical, demeaning, self righteous, superficial, and fear based (much of christianity I’ve seen so far is fear based, don’t you dare say love!). If my parents didn’t like someone, they’d rip them to shreds as soon as they were out of earshot, if I was less than perfect I’d get dragged out of bed and made to sit through several hours of Kierstyn-is-evil-thus-saith-the-lord lecturing until I would finally give up and act how they wanted (usually it was for minor infractions, like not hearing or understanding something correctly – sometimes it was for *gasp* wanting a life) I never knew when this line would be drawn or what the boundaries were.

Warning: Language (and trauma, and why birth isn't beautiful)

I wrote this up a few months ago, when I was just remembering all of it, and wanting to scream because I’ve always felt that no one really understands or understood my vehement desire to remain childless, or why every time labor or pregnancy (or children, for that matter) come up in a conversation, I start raging. The emotions of this are still raw, 11 years later – and what follows is still raw and vivid, I still feel livid about it sometimes, and scared (and for the faint of heart, there is strong language. I don’t usually use it here, but it’s an adult blog, so adult talk is allowed – in the future, read at your own risk ’cause I’m not going to disclaimer everything anymore).
Continue reading

Spiritual Abuse Awareness Week

Next week I’ll be joining my friend Hännah for spiritual abuse awareness week. I debated between saying that here or just posting for no particular reason, but figured it made more sense to say what was going on so there’d be less confusion and more people could join in if they desired.
Next Week, I’m going to be sharing my story. The posts will most likely be long and probably as hard to read as they are to write. As of right now I only have the first of three written, if that says anything.
After next week, I’ll be back with a PAX East roundup, and more than likely, lots of pictures. /dance

Stress Sickness

I’ve been feeling sick – off and on for the last two weeks. The worst days are mondays and I’ve been starting to worry about why I’ve felt so on the verge of catching something, without actually coming down with it. I’ve been able to pinpoint some of the symptoms – headaches and fuzziness largely due to the air pressure change and lack of sun – but the general sick feeling that’s just been hanging around? I think it’s stress.
I’ve never dealt with stress well, and my body’s way of dealing with it worse. I internalize until I can either deal with it, or I start to meltdown. Usually I end up getting to meltdown before dealing with it, but sometimes I can manage to avert a full on meltdown, but then I end up feeling sick. Legitimately sick. It’s weird, because taking a mental inventory of my body, I know there’s nothing actually wrong, but at the same time, I don’t feel like taking the risk of actually having a bug and overexerting myself. I have no energy, I ache all over, my head hurts, I’m queasy, and sensitive to touch and sound.
There’s no reason other than my brain, but it’s not something you can just ignore when it’s so incredibly physical. The problem arises when the reasons for this have building up for months and the feeling of stress has dissipated into a feeling of sick and then I start stressing about why I’m sick and it’s just this never ending spiral, until one day, finally, there’s a breakthrough (or sunlight) and I’m okay.
I’m tired of being sick from stress, but I don’t know how to fix it. I feel lame, because I feel like I should be able to just “snap out of it” but it’s so close to depression for me that I can’t just “snap out of it” and be okay. Instead I end up bedridden because my body can’t cope.
Or it could just be a weird cold.
Right now, soup and tea are in order while I take care of myself. I think I have some ideas now.