Emergent

It will be five whole months tomorrow since I broke from my old church (officially), and branched away on a new path in life. As is typical, it both seems longer and fresher than that.

In the early days, I was trying to be cautious — attempting to avoid offence. My goal was to take the steps I personally found necessary, while maintaining relationships. I felt this was possible, despite our differences. Though I inwardly rejoiced in my freedom, I didn’t want to flaunt these disparities to people who were fixated on side issues and ignoring the heart of what I was saying to them. I did not leave them so that I could live differently than them– I’ve always lived differently than them.

Having had my pleas for understanding unheard, having faced strange accusations, having learned about lies and hidden agendas — I now realize the attempts to avoid misunderstanding were largely wasted. I may as well toss aside my caution and embrace a greater (and more public) honesty. It’s not only healthier for me, but for others who have been hurt as I have… and perhaps for those who remain uncertain.

Yesterday was the first day of spring. My husband’s hops are sending up shoots, our fruit trees are on the verge of bursting into bloom, and the first of my garden seeds are peeking out of the damp soil. Like these tiny bits of new green, I’m allowing bits of who I am to emerge from my veil of introverted privacy. Publicly approving something controversial, posting opinions and photos on social media, referencing my decisions instead of avoiding the topics — hello, world! Here am I.

Process

The reality is setting in. Or something like that.

I’m so very angry right now. And sad. Still sad. Even when I was happy this winter, it was fringed with sadness. But, now, much of the happy has been replaced by the anger.

As I mentioned before, I thought this was simply a couple of paths veering off from one another. I expected a bit of fallout, knowing there would be those who’d be unhappy with my choices. There would be some ripping and tearing as we pulled apart. Sure. All mend-able, though.

Now I’m finding years of history dredged up and called into question. So much that was not what it seemed. It’s wiping me out, dizzying in scale. I find myself often with a racing, pounding heart — hands shaking — stomach roiling — tears welling.

I’ve gone from dealing merely with the upheaval that comes with re-examining ones own beliefs, to now questioning the last 16 years of experiences and relationships. How often was I lied to?

Yet again in my life, trust has been smashed by those I put the most confidence in. My father left when I was little. My mom manipulated and criticized. My first step-father abused us. There were many instances of wacky religious leaders over the course of my childhood.

I think there was almost exactly a year’s gap in between leaving the abusive step dad behind and joining the church ministry team that would be my spiritual/emotional home for the following 15.5 years. Looking back, that year-long gap was a happy time, despite the parental divorce and turmoil and crap that went down. We had some fun, my mom and baby sister and I. There was much growth in my life.

Here I sit, nearly 16 years later, waiting for the coming Spring. I’m feeling a bit like my February back yard: haggard, beat up, and shit on. But, Spring is around that proverbial corner. Like back in ’98-’99, I have this chance to recreate myself, to grow.

I have to remind myself of this potential of new life. I have to face the betrayal and the grief and the anger and the fear…and then put it behind me so I can learn and grow.

(Honestly, though… I really  just want to throw things right now. And eat french fries.)

The Journey – Mary Oliver

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

-Mary Oliver

 

More Turbulence

I’ve recently found out that someone I’ve relied upon for years is a liar. Yes, yes… I know, many of us are. But, in this case, I’m not talking about standard, garden variety white lies– such as hiding the three doughnuts you ate for breakfast yesterday. This is full-fledged, relational-betrayal, multi-person-damage-causing deception.

I haven’t merely put my trust in this person… I’ve followed their advice for big and little decisions, interwoven most aspects of my life with theirs,  worked side by side for over a decade, ran to their defense, fought to gain their approval, believed what they’ve told me…

For the last several months (year? or more?), I have just thought that our paths were slowly diverging. We’d walked together, but that was simply changing as life evolved and beliefs shifted in different directions. We could still be friends, though. Right?

As the fog I’ve emerged from has continued to clear, I’ve gone from just seeing the fork in the road ahead to looking behind and seeing unexpected carnage littering the path behind. How was I so blind? Why was I so sheltered from the violence? Is any of it my fault? Could I have stopped it?

I have moved from a place of elation at my freedom, to some sort of grieving. Anger, anxiety, depression. I should really be writing to help clear my head, but I’d rather just hide away in books.

A. A. Milne – breakfast

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

– A. A. Milne