Archive of ‘Personal Growth’ category

Will I Always Be Atheist?

Seth emails me the other day (hey seth!) and says, “You’ll come back full circle. You’ll be a Christian again.”

It wasn’t an asshole thing to say. Seth is a nice guy. Since then, we’ve talked and caught up and it’s great to hear how well he’s doing with life.

It’s something I thought about before, actually–this whole, “Will I always be atheist?” I mean, I swung all the way toward fundamentalist Christian extremes (living in a fringe group for years, on a compound with dozens of other “church members” and “disciples”) and now I’m on the non-believer extremity. Who’s to say I won’t swing back again?

Sometimes I questioned my ability to swing all the way over the “other side” so easily–except that it wasn’t easy and it took many years. And I think being atheist is closer to who I always was. I always questioned the bible and what I was taught in church (and everywhere else). It’s just that when you move to an isolated location and aren’t allowed outside media, friends, family, etc. it’s easier for you to get brainwashed into thinking that this fringe belief system is the right and correct path to an elite version of Christianity.

In all honesty, it’s destructive and fills you with guilt and all things unpleasant. As Christopher Hitchens would say, “Religion is evil.” He might even say a group like this is maniacal.

So my question to you is, Will you always be a Christian? Or will you finally start thinking for yourself and not let some multi-millionaire pastor tell you what the bible says and what you should do with your life? When are you going to live for yourself and not this modern conception of “giving it all to god”?

What’s Different Here

Many religious bloggers try to tell you what to do and what to believe. I’m not religious, so I’m not interested in bossing people around.

I’ve spent a lot of time observing other people’s opinions on the subject of spiritual abuse and I have one thing to say: quite a few of them have the same belief system that I left behind.

Why is it that few people have taken to open up their minds to discard the negative, harmful beliefs that once enslaved us? Religious legalism and intellectual blindness is what entrapped us–made us continually subject to abuse. Of course, there are other components like mental coercion, violence, brainwashing tactics. But, the only way I’ve found to truly free myself of all those elements is to sort of empty out my mind from all the religious bullshit and start over with a clean slate. I started later to pick apart each element of belief slowly and thoughtfully, looking at it curiously and wondering why “they” taught me specific things. What did it do to benefit them? What did it do to oppress me? Or, was it helpful to me?

Most of it wasn’t helpful to me. It usually was a way of thinking that harmed me and oppressed me and didn’t allow me to be the unique individual I am.

What is it about leaving one church/cult that makes people want to start another religious movement? I’ve observed a lot of people on multiple online venues who’ve left cults like mine. Most of them have taken the role of “shepherd” and kinda try to pastor people. I really despise the role of pastor, so these people tend to annoy me more than anything.

What I’ve found is that a blogging platform can truly transform someone into nearly a televangelist type of fame, if that’s what you choose to gain from it. Yesterday, I was talking to a writers group and someone suggested I go on a lecture tour, talking about the ills of cults and how to inform parents. I told them I wanted nothing to do with the lecture circuit. I don’t want to be a spiritual guru, a guide for others to follow. And I don’t want to get paid for doing something like a pastor does.

I think each one of you is smart enough to figure out your own post-cult journey and I personally don’t want to force my beliefs onto you. I think the legalistic religious personalities of former cult members is sort of silly and dishonest with themselves. It’s just as ugly as what I left behind and I don’t want anything to do with it. I’m happy enough on my own, meshing together a path that leads many places–none of them more “right” than the other.

Thirty and Not Married!

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Ending up in Master’s Commission for seven years threw a kink in the “normal” life, if you will. A lot of people end up attending college after high school, falling in love with someone, getting to work on a career and having some kids.

Not me.

I took this weird, winding road to where I am now.

I’m thirty years old.

I’m unmarried.

I don’t have children.

I’m two classes away from a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.

What really got to me for years?

I wasn’t married! All my friends were getting married except for me. I’d been a bridesmaid about five times (or more…I have enough crappy dresses to prove it). Now, going on 3-0, it’s actually not as huge of a deal to me as it was when I was 24. (Though my current boyfriend might argue with me here. =P Love you, babe)

Why?

My dating life has gone through a radical change.

 

Be Who You Are, Not Who You Ought to Be

It’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay not to meet everyone’s expectations of what you “should” be or shouldn’t be, because ultimately you have to be the boss of yourself and live your own goddamned life.

Case in point: I am in school right now. It’s my last semester of college and dammit, I should be excited and I should be attending class. Right? Sadly, no. I’m barely attending class and I’m just f*cking burnt out on college. I think most college seniors feel the same way, so it’s probably no surprise to all of you who are “normal” out there. I constantly reflect and wonder if I’m “normal” or not. Living in a bubble/cult for years will do that to you. I question everything to a degree that I’m probably OCD about it.

But back to the lesson at hand–it’s okay to just f*cking live your life and relax if you want to. Let go of all the business that’s bogging you down. Just be who you are. That’s better than being who you want to be or ought to be. 

I’m Bitter and Angry

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Recently, an old church friend from Austin, TX deleted my Facebook Fan Page.

Her comment was simple, but really condescending (see Beth’s comment at the top of the thread):

So, of course, I had to email her to ask her why she deleted me. Usually, I don’t care when someone deletes me. After all, I know who I am, and how feisty I am, so I expect it. However, if someone says I’ve “gone over the edge” and calls it “sad” it makes me curious.

Here’s my message to her, her response, and what I had to say after finding out why she deleted me:

I think my main problem is this:

Why is it a crime for someone who’s been abused from a pastor and a ministry to be bitter and angry?

Is being bitter and angry part of a natural grieving process? I thought it was. In fact, professionals say over and over that anger is a natural part of the grieving process. In my opinion, to criticize someone for going through the grieving process is incredibly unkind.

Also, let’s discuss my going “over the edge.” In the past few months, here’s a recap of how “over the edge” I’ve gone and what she means:

I’m not a Christian anymore. What that means to my former “friends” like this lady is that I’m “going to hell” or “walking with the devil” or any number of other ridiculous terms. It also means I’m not obsessed with what she thinks, including the fact that I may cuss, support the #prochoice movement, and by all means hope that abusers of young adults and children go to jail, where they belong.

I post videos on YouTube speaking my mind. Back in the day, I was in a church where it was frowned upon for women to speak their mind. When I lived there, it was also shunned to speak your mind against a PASTOR who did wrong. I’m breaking both of those unwritten rules. People who leave cults are often discouraged from doing so. They’ve been taught for so many years that pastors can do no wrong, and that if they think their pastor is wrong, they’re of the devil. I’m going against the way I was taught, and the way these people believe by speaking my mind.

I’m less conservative than I used to be. Some even call me liberal. I don’t vote Republican anymore. I don’t carry a gun. I don’t like Sarah Palin. I don’t think having sex is a sin.

I read academic sources more than I listen to a pastors sermons. I haven’t been to church in years and am a happier, better rested person for it. I love my non-church life. I have free time to pursue my real love–writing and trashy reality TV shows. Or, having sex.

So, have I gone over the edge?

No.

Unless you’re a fundamentalist Christian. And then, I probably appear to have gone over the edge. In fact, I’m probably going to go to hell for blasphemy and sin. But, luckily, I don’t believe in hell, so it’s cool.

I’m happy in a new world with a new way of thinking that includes loving myself and others, believing in the best in people, thinking for ones self, appreciating those around me who care about me and pushing away those who don’t care about me.

These days, I’m a huge fan of respect. I respect others. I even respect others who find their religious beliefs sacred. I respect others who are very different than I am.

All I’m asking for is the same thing in return. I don’t have religious beliefs anymore. Respect that. If you want to delete me on Facebook, I don’t mind. Just don’t be an asshole about it and make a big stink. It won’t change me.

The Cult of Celebrity

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My Religious Studies professor used to always say that we Americans were obsessed with celebrities. He called it the “Cult of Celebrity.”

It’s true. We follow celebrities on Twitter, Facebook, and on television. We even have a network that makes billions of dollars just following them. That network is E! Entertainment.

Ironically, E! is one of my favorite channels. I love it. I’m not a huge fan of E! News, but I watch let the TV play and it usually comes on.

I’d never realized just how obsessed with celebrities we all are (yeah, I know…I’m kind of slow) until tonight when they showed one of their top stories: Gisele Bundchen in a bikini.

Really, E!? Really?

One of the top stories was that a Victoria’s Secret model is in a bikini in her home country, Brazil? What’s creepier than that being the top story? Some creeper sat around, hiding behind these bushes until she came outside dressed for the beach.

Leave the chick alone, photogs!

Sometimes I Paint

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I discovered I could paint maybe 2 years ago. I bought a canvas and some acrylics. A day later, I had a pretty cool painting.

The other day I was feeling inspired so I wanted to try a woodsy painting. Here’s step 1 and 2 of the UNFINI

SHED

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Putting Down Roots

I’ve got this thing against New Years Resolutions, but I’m very pro-goals. My rules are: they have to be feasible, and if they are large, I have to break them into a few smaller goals. Also, my goal setting has flexibility. If something isn’t working, or if my progress is slower, I constantly reevaluate and modify my goals.

Naturally, one of my goals is to own a house. I’m 31 and I’ve never owned a home. In fact, I’ve wandered a lot and lived in many different cities, all because of ministry. This is ironic because I moved a lot with this pastor who used to preach “rebels are mobile” and move a lot.

So now my ministry days are over, and I’m finished with college. I’ve finally found the area of California I want to settle down in, that feels like home. And I’m ready for a home. Aside from my parents house, I’ve lived in apartments and dorms for most of my twenties. It’s time for a mortgage and a garage and some closet space that I don’t have to call up movers to move for me.

I just got a renewal notice on my post office box, which reminded me that I’ve been at my current apartment (a cute guest house near the beach) for over a year. It’s probably time to unpack the boxes, you say? Maybe. But I dread packing everything back up, so I’ve just got boxes around the house that probably won’t get unpacked until they are unpacked for good. I hope that unpacking comes soon. It’s my goal to have a house (albeit a very small condo) in the next few years.

Buying a house is such a permanent thing, which sort of excites me. After being essentially rootless, I’m happy to be putting down roots in one area. I’ve got the small things down: a post office box, a local credit union, and a local job. I’m in love with this area-the weather, the shopping, the small town feel, the way they decorate at Christmas, and yes, the proximity to Los Angeles which makes me feel connected to the real world whenever I choose to be. But best of all, I’m a short drive to Malibu or Ventura. I spent days there this summer, walking the beach, napping, and photographing the sunset. What better place to live?!

So I’m extremely excited to put down roots here. And for proof that girl power really does exist, I’ll be putting down roots alone, without a husband. This is an important step since my Christian days had me believing that a house wasn’t a home without a husband and wife and kids. But for me, this isn’t true. I don’t have a husband and that can’t be forced (although I have an amazing boyfriend of three months whom I love). So settling down will include me and the two cats, who are basically my children. I’m looking forward to what the next few years bring. I’ve got a lot of hard work to do but I’m excited to see where life takes me.

Sick or Pregnant?

Yesterday I started feeling it-what everyone else has been feeling for months.

The winter cold.

At least I think its a cold. Everyone around me has been sick with much worse, so if I just end up with a cold, I’ll be happy.

I filled my body with fresh veggies yesterday and today, fruit juice and vitamins. And then I sort of took a three hour nap.

Well, not sort of. I did.

And it was awesome, minus the sweats my fever gave me. Unfortunately, I think I need to go straight back to bed because I’m exhausted. Yes, from sleeping.

The funny thing about being a girl around my age (31 and proud) is that when anything happens to your body that’s abnormal, friends start randomly saying you’re pregnant.

Yesterday this happened on Facebook and it was pretty hilarious. I’ve got a runny nose and am craving veggies after all the holiday junk food and everyone starts saying, “Preggers!”

Babies are so adorable, but not something I’m ready for right now. Now that my cold is developing more, it makes me laugh even more. Can’t sleep? Pregnant. Grumpy at work? Pregnant. Can’t stop crying? Pregnant. Bad cramps? Pregnant.

We women seriously go through life always thinking we could be pregnant and when we aren’t pregnant, we get a little bummed out-even when we aren’t ready for a kid. It’s so contradictory, but who cares? I can’t wait til I have a little baby bump, no matter how scared I am of popping that little tyke out of my vagina. And regardless of my not being able to afford a little runt, I imagine I’d make it work pretty damn well. Being a mother is something that I try to act nonchalant about, as if I really don’t care, BUT seriously, if I could get a little cold and have it turn into a little pregnancy, I probably would.

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