Message in a Bottle (17)

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It’s  been several days since I’ve written my last entry. I’ve been extremely busy lately with the release of a novella I’d worked on for Halloween and have been enjoying a couple of days of stress-free yoga and vegging. But tonight, as happens occasionally, I saw something that caught my attention.

Now I had been following the story of the two brothers Lucas Leonard 19 and Chris Leonard 17, who as Christopher testified were for-  ‘…14 hours…he and his brother were pummeled in their torsos and genitals with an electrical cord.’ during a ‘counseling session’ all because they wanted to leave a church in upstate New York.

Because they wanted to leave a church.

The medical personnel who worked on trying to save Lucas’ life had mistaken him for a gunshot victim do to the amount of blood they’d seen. His brother Christopher survived the attack but will no doubt be damaged from it.

My heart goes out to both of them. But my heart also goes out to so many people across this country who have been made victims to this type of Fundamentalism and abuse over the years. There are thousands of them out there living lives of quiet agony. Many of them trying to get on with their lives. Many of them no doubt having heard of this case, were triggered with their own terrible memories under the lash of unintelligent, uncompassionate, empathyless fundamental zealots that this country allows, to exist.

For the past almost 15 years this country has been engaging fundamentalist zealots of a different religion in the middle east. But what America refuses to acknowledge – or perhaps are unable to face – is the zealots that live here at home. A great deal of those who exist inside of evangelical circles.

Now when we here in the United States think of religious zealots – we instantly turn our thoughts perhaps to Jim Jones or to David Koresh. But the fact of the matter is zealotry exists in many different aspects of evangelicalism in this country. The hard part is believing that nice man in his suit who carries his Bible or the sweet blue-haired lady who lives down the street – are doing things like this. Or who are sending money to Uganda or Scott Lively’s defense fund. Scott Lively will be standing trial for Crimes against Humanity for his influence in Ugandan politics and praises Russia’s antigay stance that he takes credit for.

And during this political campaign, people have gotten a good dose at what that Evangelicalism looks like as 3/4ths of that community have sworn to vote in Donald Trump. And Trump has garnered support from former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann as well as support from Tony Perkins’ Focus on the Family as well as support from Liberty’ University’s President Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham. (Liberty University’s Law Center will be providing the defense for Mr. Lively).

Now these young men weren’t gay as far as I know. All they wanted to do was just leave. And what they are now and what we’re left with is an unwilling Martyr and a Confessor for their faith. They were kids. One’s dead and the other may wish he was, right now. For what? For what?!

I’ve grown thin on my ability to swallow down the anti-Muslim/ All Muslims are terrorists bit that we hear especially right now in this goat fuck of an election season. Because we have ours. We have plenty of ours. Right now America may not look like Aleppo, no one’s trying to sweep ISIS out of one our cities like they are in Mosul- but that doesn’t matter to those boys, tonight. They were brutalized by terrorists who wanted them, upon pain of death, to confess their sins and stay in their church.

If America has declared a global war on terror – to not sound like a bunch of inconsistent ideologues – it out to start weeding out this crap here that allows this to happen.

You can read the article about what happened to the pastor and her congregation here. Those fuckers only get two lines on my blog.

I don’t know what the answer is in dealing with these organizations. It happens all the time. But it can’t continue….

Message in a bottle (part 16)

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It’s been a few days since I’ve written my last entry into this thing that i started doing for reasons of self-preservation.

Mostly, because for the past several days I’ve felt pretty light. Relieved in a way. The stars all seemed to align for me and I allowed myself to see the truth – the whole truth – for the first time.

And it broke my heart. I’m thirty-five years old.

But there is a part of me that feels like he’s seven years old. And despite my size and weight and years on my face, that five-year-old is still very much a part  of my life. That seven-year-old boy who’s name is Freddie- boy (that was my nickname). That little boy who was born on April 12th, 1981 the third child and first born son.

From what I understand I would introduce myself as ‘Freddie boy’ to people I would meet.

Today, I just call myself Freddie. Frederick makes me sound like I have money and Fred makes me sound like I know how to work on cars. Neither of which is true.

I’m poor and clueless when it comes to anything under the hood.

Before I cut off communication with my family, my mother had sent me a few things that she’d collected over the years and in that letter was my first letter to Santa Clause.

On the front, it said: To Santa to give to God.

It reads: I love God and I can see why you love me. Please take this (the letter ) to Jesus.

I had it worked out in my little five-year-old head that, of course, Santa knew God and Jesus they all lived ‘up north’. To me, that was the Holy Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and Santa Clause (Sorry, Holy Spirit).

But the part that says, “I can see why you love me,” is something that’s given me pause.

I can see why you love me. Because I’m Freddie-boy and EVERYONE loves Freddie boy, duh.

But it’s interesting how as a child I knew that I was loved by Jesus. I knew it.

Despite the abuse, despite the craziness that was Detroit, despite the worn out heart and mind of this thirty-five-year-old man. I am thankful for my parent’s faith in regards to teaching us about Jesus. Not the fundamentalism, no. That ruined Jesus for me and for many others, I think, and probably is strong enough to give Christ himself pause every once in awhile and ask, “Am I really like that?”

Because despite all of this along with my obsession with love that I’ve carried with me all my adult life, I feel like I never stopped looking for God. I never stopped looking for Christ. Even factoring in the fact that I’m gay, I’ve yet to be convinced God doesn’t exist and Christ isn’t a part of my life.

Mostly, because I met God once. He fishes off the beaches on Crystal Beach (near Galveston) and he owns a raggedy four by four. He helped pull me out of the sand once when I was stuck and no one else would help me. He didn’t look like he had a lot of money, and his hair was curly and stood up in every direction. But he pulled up, got me out of rut I was in and got me back on the road before waving and disappearing from sight. He looked poor.

And he didn’t yell at me for getting stuck.

And he didn’t want any money although I had a pocket full of cash.

So if the ‘least you do for these you do for me’ means the least you do for someone who’s in a bad way means you did something for Christ. What does it mean when the least does something for you?

Like I said, I met God that day.

I cried all the way home.

Maybe it’s good that that five-year-old is still in me. Wanting to believe. Believing despite everything. I just wish I could say, “I know why you love me,” with that much assuredness. That little kid saw in himself something of value. He was Freddie Boy.

I want to be Freddie Boy, again.

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 14)

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Fear can either motivate you or it can debilitate you.

I remember when I was a kid the fear that was constant in our  house. Fear of my parent’s mood. Fear of my father being awakened early from a nap and coming downstairs to find a house not clean. Fear of my mother’s mood should she find dirty clothes in a drawer on a Saturday night before church. Fear of having our entire bedrooms tossed, being beaten and made to clean it all up before we went to bed that night.

But the fear wasn’t just internal. It was external as well. Detroit in the 1990’s was like a war zone. We lived close to three rival gangs, Cash Flow, Latin Counts, and World Wide Gangsters (Folks), all through growing up there had been minor gang organizations like Young Guns or even Camel Boys Inc. but they were killed off or chased away.

No, when I was a kid, these were the heavy hitters. You had to watch what colors you wore to school because you walked. Who you talked to. What street you caught yourself on. I remember one time being outside playing when a fight broke out between two rival gangs and watching them exchange gunfire with an Uzi. I was standing right there. I saw how a bullet hit the curb where one of the members had been standing just seconds before and seeing a chunk of it turned to dust.

I had a person I went to church with, die in a firebombing that was meant for his neighbor. The authorities scraped him off the basement floor because the house collapsed in on him when he was trying to escape.

In the summertime, gunshots ran out as frequently as children played outside. Houses burned all the time. Til this day I can smell smoke and it’ll wake me up out of a dead sleep to go and check to see if my house is on fire.

This combination of internal and external stress created in me a very unhealthy and often times panic-stricken individual. Add in the wrath of God from fundamentalism and the fact that I was hiding my sexuality in a deep dark place inside of me, I was in hell. Hell isn’t a place, it’s a state of being.

And my body took the brunt of it. At sixteen I was in a size thirty-six pants. I would eat and eat constantly. In school, I was tormented by other people, mostly male students, for being gay.I was shy, effeminate, and overweight. It made me an easy target. i always denied being gay since middle school, not only because that meant social suicide in Southwestern High School anyway, but because of what I was taught about homosexuality in church meant that I would go to hell. And I  put my sexuality in the box of, “I can’t be this  because I’m saved,” and went on, the best I could, with life.

Fear and violence seemed to come at me from all directions. You never knew what was going to happen from one moment to the next. I would refuse to defecate until I absolutely had to. I would hold my bowel movements and had done since I was little. A sign that, I discovered recently, I was in some way trying to control something. Something.

This was not a life of someone who lived in the United States of America. This was the life of someone growing up in a blown out old Soviet Bloc Country or some shitty little town somewhere in the middle east. (And speaking of the middle east, Dearborn was right next to us and for all the rumors about how bad Muslims are – Dearborn which houses the largest population of Muslim Americans in this country – looked like paradise in comparison to Detroit).

And I was there for twenty years.

I guess I’m sort of a veteran, of what I am not exactly sure. I don’t even know if it has name. But it does have a place in me. And because of that, one doesn’t simply move on. There is no get over it. It’s defined me. It’s walked with me through most of my life. If you believe the new data coming out ACES (Adverse Childhood Experience Study) it may have even shortened it.

(That’s why I quit smoking, watch what I eat, do yoga, and write books and poetry. The Health Department website and Center for Disease Control all  said that this was a good idea. )

And I was always afraid to talk about this. Like I would be letting open some Pandora’s box that I couldn’t contain. That what I would summon would hurt people because I told the truth. That somehow my parents would get hurt and I was protecting them. Or the people I went to church with, would somehow find these words and mock me. Or that people would pity me, or hate me, or be angry with me, or not believe me. I was afraid of opening my mouth to speak.

I hate what they did. I hate what happened to me. I  hate that I’ve carried the weight of it all my life. And I hate them. The church, parents, people who watched and did nothing to help. Detroit, you ugly, ugly bitch.

But fear is a terrible thing. And as I am writing this to sort of put this all down, place a value judgment on it, to say once and for all that this was bad. That there was zero good in this. And acknowledge that I was a passive recipient of this place and all of the evil that walked in it (to include the church). I am working through my fear. I’ve been in a perpetual state of fear all my life to some degree or other. This is an exorcism of sorts.

I wanted to end this in anger.

And then I get down on my knees and I thank God for it. For all of it. For the privilege of it. And instead of hating it. I am made to love it. Hatred binds. Fear controls. I tried running from it all my life. I tried so hard to get away. Afraid to turn and face it. Afraid to let it wash over me and sit in the middle of it. But not anymore.

So to let go. I must love it. I must forgive it, forgive them, and forgive myself. I must have the courage to do so. I must have the courage to not only love the skankiness of all of that but the skankiness and mess that I became as a result. And then, maybe then, I can know peace. I can know heaven. And know God. And then, maybe then, I’ll let go. I think this is the beginning of that process.

I owe it to my husband. But more importantly, I owe it to myself.

I’ll write more when I can.

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 13)

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I have a dog. He’s a beautiful five-year-old German Shepherd named Kaiser. He’s such a stud. Everyone stops when he walks by and looks at him when I take him out on his walks. He’s not the usual black and brown Rin Tin Tin – he’s a little more black.

But he has these deep brown soulful eyes that just stare at me.

In the morning when my husband gets up for work and I walk him to the door and kiss him goodbye, I’ll lay back down for an hour or so. When I do, I pat the side of the bed where my husband lay and Kaiser leaps up and immediately settles down for me to pet him.

He wants to be wherever I am. If I am working on the computer writing a blog, a story, or poem, he’s right here. If I am in the living room watching a movie with John, he’s in my lap.

I could pet this dog for hours and he’d let me.

I always thought pet people were ridiculous. Thousands of dollars to treat cancer in their animal. Find the perfect food. The perfect Vet. Have them groomed and walked… I would always say, “Those people are crazy.”

Until I got a dog of my own. And now, No. They’re not so crazy after all. Why?

Because a dog loves you NO MATTER WHAT.

I remember coming out as gay in my twenties. I remember the static I took from some of my family. People I had been cool with suddenly weren’t cool with me, especially some of the people I’d gone to church with. Even my brother was quick to tell my mother once when she was angry with him, “How can I embarrass the family, you have a gay son.”

Now, mind you this was after I had joined the army after 9/11, deployed to Kuwait in support of O.I.F (Operation Iraq Freedom) and was there for a year, honorably discharged, got a associates degree and was working on a bachelor’s.  But that didn’t matter. I could have caught Osama Bin Laden, Hussein, killed Uday and Qusay myself and made it home in time to save the stock market from crashing in ’08, so, yeah none of the aforementioned stuff really mattered to them.

I was gay.

I remember when we were in church when I was a kid. I wasn’t a fan of preaching, I really took to music. And my mother, her friend, and I would sing gospel songs in church. I figured if I had to be here, I might as well do something I enjoy doing and it was good fun.

After I’d come out my mother was practicing a song one day , I heard her, came downstairs to help out and we had a good time. Felt like old times.  And then she looked at me and said, “Too bad you’re gay. You could come to church and sing this with me tonight.”

It felt like she had kicked my soul in the crotch. I was very very hurt. I soon left Michigan, and my family, behind me.

One day, years later, I was feeling pretty down on myself. I can’t exactly remember why. But I was feeling like maybe them whatadipshit evangelicals were right. Maybe I was damned. Maybe I had made a choice, and somewhere along the line had condemned my soul to eternal hell and torment. Because, you know, Fundamentalism wasn’t bad enough.

But then I looked over at my dog who was lying on the bed next to me and I came out to him. I said, “Kaiser. I’m gay.”

And in disgust, he got up and barked at me. When I tried to approach he bared his teeth and snarled. It got so bad I  had to give him away. He wanted nothing to do with me.

You know I’m kidding. You know what he did? After my husband and I told we were gay and that he had two daddies,  he yawned. Put his head down on my lap and looked up at me with those soulful brown eyes.

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I knew three things at once, I had just experienced Agape love (Godly love) for the first time, I would never again feel bad about being gay, and I wasn’t as good a person as those mentioned before me. I was better and always had been.

Some shit’s just beneath you.

I want to be the man my dog thinks I am.

I’ll write more when I can.

Message in a Bottle (Part 12)

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You can’t control and make people afraid with a loving God. A loving God takes away the entire platform of Independent Fundamental Baptist movement and a lot of other denominations of Christianity.

Think about it this way, when we see art like a painting or hear a symphony or watch an incredible movie – we think to ourselves – wow, the guy/gal that did this was talented. We see not only the art but in observing the art, we catch a glimpse of the artist as well.

So, the irony here is that these people ‘fear’ God so much they’re not only willing to talk shit about The Creation but The Creator as well.

I mean think about that.

Yesterday while I was leaving the grocery store, I put my cart away in the coral and looked down and at my feet was a discarded Chic Tract. I picked it up and idly went through it. And of course, like all those Tracts, the fear of punishment rang through the pages. Fear of a God, Fear of The Devil, Fear of Hell.

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So, in short, people are ‘getting saved’ at gunpoint. It’s fear that brings them to God. And the producers of this track, since they brought you to God, know exactly how it is you have to live to please God and the cycle begins. And theirs is the truthiest truth that ever did truth and everyone else is doomed to hell.

Their God is not a god of love, but a god of retribution and anger, vengeful wrath waiting to be tossed out upon unrepentant sinners. That’s not only religious ideology, it’s also political. There is an agenda there. People join IFB, and similar denominations,  out of total fear for their immortal soul, give their life to God, and become miserable while being promised a heaven made of gold. But there is a far more insidious thing going on in the movement as well.

I’ve heard hell fire and damnation sermons most of my young life ala Jonathan Edward’s Sinners in the hands of an Angry God. And what sounded to me like certainty back then, wasn’t certainty at all. But the constant regurgitation of fear to keep people in line. But that fear, I discovered later, not only kept people subservient to the will of one man, it also cut them off from seeing and being a part of the creation that God made. That creation -people and their music, and poetry, paintings and symphonies, other ethnicities and yes, even the hated Rock and Roll and dancing. Expressions of Humanity that profess its will to not only survive but thrive all the while experiencing everything God created along the way.

When I was a kid, my sisters and I would turn on B.E.T or MTV and watch Soul Train and listen to music and I remember being in awe of these professions of love from the Power Ballad singers. And I remember the dancing on Soul Train that looked so happy and fun and imitating them. And listening to Roberta Flack, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, The Nelsons, and marveling at the creativity of it all. Even though we knew if we got caught there was hell to pay. And trust me, there often was.

And we were often drawn to it anyway. Not because of it being sin. But because it was true. The songs they sang were truth. And truth is a dangerous thing in world of half truthes and manipulation.

And these pastors cut people off from that. because there is one thing that man desires above all else.

Power.

And kings can’t be kings without coercive powers. And subjects won’t be subjects if The Gospel of Life sings to them louder than  the Gospel of fear, hate, and retribution. Why do you think Slavery was even rationalized? Why did Jim Crow stick around for so long? The Rise of the ‘moral’ majority? Breaking the will of a child?

Because the subjects found their way into a voting booth and they took their gospel of fear, hate, and retribution along for the ride.

We’re often taught that the Pilgrims came to America to seek religious freedom. What we’re not told is that these Pilgrims who were mostly puritan tried to subvert The King’s authority in England and got run out. They wanted to be King. They didn’t object to the power the king had, they object to HIM having that power.

So the next time someone wants to talk about ISIS or Islam or The Taliban, hand them a Chic Tract and talk to them about our own brand of whackadoodledoo’s that are just as capable of insidious things from having been cut off from their own humanity for so long and indoctrinated to hate the world and the people in it for so long, that they’d become violent as well to keep people in line.

The Bible does say man is flawed and falls short of his glory.

But let me make it very clear to you,  that just means you aren’t perfect.

It doesn’t mean that your rotten and horrible. God loves you. He loves you. And he doesn’t make mistakes. And just because you may have done something wrong in life, like everyone else, doesn’t make you bad. You are not inherently evil. Mankind is Good. He doesn’t make junk. You’re his art. He’s the artist.

((Atheists be like: I don’t believe any of that anyway. I agree with you on more points than I disagree with you on, believe me))

God is not going to send Christ to die for something he despises.

Didn’t happen.

Anything that says otherwise is nothing more than a con job. And those pastors who perpetuated this better pray that God is loving and all merciful, because ….damn.

Fear is big business. And business lately, has been real good.

 

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 10)

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The world seems filled with scandal today. Anthony Weiner is back in the news for tweetin’ his pecker. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are on the outs and getting a divorce. Hillary has her emails and everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth is a damn lie. Everything today seems salacious. But I don’t understand why everyone is so shocked by that. People often do dumb shit.

But I think the shock comes because we see people as perfect. We place people on pedestals. And in church, the pastor gets set on one. He’s considered without reproach. But boy, that isn’t the case sometimes is it?

Now scandal becomes so depending on people’s level of tolerance for certain things. If a woman in the church we went to cut her hair too short, people would be beside themselves. If the hem of a skirt was too high, if someone was seen leaving a movie theatre, if you listened to the radio or any number of mundane things that to the world outside would seem a total non-issue.

But then, we’ve had some doozies too. Real scandals. Real stuff.

The first I can remember is when I was very little our family attended a church in Delray, Michigan called Open Door Baptist Church. This big congregation was on Dearborn Ave in a brown brick  building with a huge green steeple. In my furthest memories, I can recall being in the nursery.

But this place had been the beginning of my life. The name Open Door Baptist would follow me most of my life. And in each and every single church that carried that name, the scandal of what it was would follow us around. Like a ghost that couldn’t lay down. I don’t know if it was it’s protestant nature that shook it like bones in a coffin and caused it to fall apart over and over as it stayed in a perpetual state of protest. Or the fundamentalism was so great so profound that it – like most – fall victim to its own inability to sustain itself in such a heightened state of perfection. And because of that inability, when the bow breaks, down goes baby cradle and all.

I do not know all the details. But I do know that at some point the pastor’s wife began to have an affair outside of the church. In response, the pastor began to have an affair with my aunt. Several people knew about the affair and wanted to use it as a means to take control of the church and raise up their own man as the pastor.

Then the pastor and his girlfriend stole the offering out of the safe, bank, who knows aaaaaaaaand ……

……ran off to Las Vegas. That’s right. Right into Sodom and Gamorah. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 dollars.

The people who’d known all along that this was going on went to my father and accused him of being in on it, although it was them who had been on it all along. He knew nothing about it and it actually broke his heart. And like humpty dumpty the church crashed and all the kings horses and all the kings men….

And that always seemed to be the nature of things. For all its righteousness and all of its high moral grandstanding, fundamentalism eventually does something ridiculously human and incredibly dumb and it implodes or explodes. And when it was all said and done there were victims walking around looking dazed and confused asking themselves how could this happen?

It’s like one of those party poppers. You know the kinds with the strings that you pull and *poof* there is string and bits of paper all over the place? And it’s about as anticlimactic as that as well.

All through my life going to church with my parents, things like this – maybe not to this degree- would happen. And I think it happens because at the end of the day these organizations are ran people and people aren’t perfect and they do make mistakes. However, and this is big however, when you prop yourselves up as the gatekeepers of the real gospel and the saved of the saved, the mistakes you make, the fall from grace you take as a result, is a honey. Because while there is plenty of righteousness to go around. There was ZERO grace to be found. For anyone.

We would go to these churches and our parents would say that, “Oh, this church is so different. They aren’t like the other versions of The Open Door Baptist Church’ we went to prior (even though some of the members were the same as well as the doctrine) . And that was the way of it. Jesus is REALLY here. He wasn’t really there at the last one because of what they did to us or said about us or whatever.

And so the insanity and indoctrination (as well as abuse)- would continue. Until something else happened. Until the King took a tumble in his tragic kingdom and the subjects were left to wander through the desert for forty years without him. It was really sort of unmerciful all the way around. While the Pastors would advocate corporal punishment for the women and children in the church, all the while the blade of the guillotine was being sharpened for the first time he made a mistake. Or, if he was hell bent on keeping his throne, he would send out hit men to abuse the accusers into leaving the church and cover everything up. One pastor of ours actually slashed a man’s tires.

It’s good to be king.

Like I’ve said before in other blogs. White trash Shakespear. And at the end of the day – no matter where we went or how long we stayed – it was a study in pure insanity. Insanity is repetition expecting different results. But the end was always the same. It was like these organizations had a natural shelf life built into them. A self-destruct button. Because most of the families that were involved with them, self-destructed right along with the churches they associated with and protested themselves to death. They fell upon their own sword.

That was the real scandal of it all. And it’s rather poetic in a tragic way. Do I hate those people who had an affair and ran off with the money? No. I’m just sorry they felt that was the way they had to go about being happy because their doctrine held them captive to such a degree they didn’t or couldn’t even have mercy on themselves.

That’s the scandal.

And pulling away and peeling that stuff off of you has to be done layer by layer.

I’ll write more when i can

P.S. If you want a good peek inside of Fundamentalism – and understand the isolation and human nature being triumphant- without having to watch a documentary or join one, watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

 

Message in a bottle (Part 9)

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Last night I got word that a really cool guy that I knew passed away. His name was David. He was an ex-Marine (take that back, from what I understand once a Marine always a Marine) a father, a husband, and all around really  nice guy.

It really sucked last night to hear he had passed. He reminded me of Santa Clause. He was big with a white beard. Very affable. Very kind. And was interested in what you had to say.

He comes from a family and continued the tradition of – family is whoever you choose it to be. Whether you are blood, or not, whether you are considered good or not. It didn’t matter to him or his wife Debbie that I was gay and married to a man. They saw us as equals.

I, and later on John  through me, was unofficially adopted by this family that’s wider than those two. I was introduced to Carol and Daddy (David’s brother)  by his niece who I’d met first. And this family is all educated. All of them have degrees or an interest in history, literature, politics, and poetry. And their home looks ripped right out of an English countryside. There are books, and cats, and booze, and a fireplace. And my God …there is food! If you’re hungry in this house, something is wrong with you.

And what is amazing about them, is, they look for you to see if you’re coming.

They want to see you. They call and check up on you.

They leave a light on for you.

They want to see you succeed. They are happy when you are.

They ask you to help them hold the ladder or trim the hedge or go get some eggs for them.

They feel a lot like a family should.

When I was still in my tea party angry at the world self-loathing phase. When I was a fundi baptist if not in my personal theology but my outlook on the world. They were patient with me. Even when I didn’t deserve it. Even when I walked away from them in anger because I disagreed with something Daddy said.

They took me back without a word.

When you see love for the first time one of two things happen. First, you’re suspicious of it. You’re suspicious of its intent. It feels uncomfortable. It’s invasive to you and you want to withdraw from it. And second, when it sinks in and you realized what it is you play this compare and contrast game. And this is in regards to love of all sorts. Agape, Eros, Philia, Storge – all of ’em.

When you see real love for the first time you look back on what you thought love was and you’re like ‘What the fuck was that?!”

It’s easy to love someone. The hardest part in keeping a relationship alive is letting them love you. You know you. You’ve lived with you. And when you’ve allowed or been forced to accept someone else’s truth as THE truth about you, you may even turn away from love out of fear. Fear of being stripped of so much that you thought you were. As those things, people put on you are now comfortable even though they’re ugly and serve only to hurt you the longer you hold onto them.

If someone says they love you. Family, Friends, or Faith – if they don’t encompass these truths from 1st Corinthians 13:4 – get away from them. There’s is a false love. Especially if you’re caught up in the Retribution gospel of Fundamentalism. As Dolly Parton said, “You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.”

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

When you come into the presence of love for the first time,you don’t want to leave it. Whether that’s the love of a lover, love of a friend, or the love of perhaps an adoptive family (official or otherwise). And it’s then you realize blood is NOT in fact, thicker than water.You owe no one loyalty or love unless they’re loyal and love you in return.

I wandered hell’s half acre looking for a family like that. And I found one. When you find one, right away, understand a few things.

Will they be perfect? Nope.

But neither are you. And they love you regardless.

R.I.P Uncle David. You were pretty cool.

I’ll write more when I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 8)

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I woke up thinking about Power this morning and was going to blog about that. But after reading the rawness of yesterday’s post, I have instead opted to talk about thankfulness.

I find myself in a unique position. On one hand, I despise having to have gone through all that I did. I hate it. I hate what the churches under those men did to my family. I hate the way my parents abdicated to them. And I hate their garbage, shallow, theology.

100 percent guarantee of heaven is snake oil and the product of what happens when Capitalism meets Religion. It’s like those late night 19.99 commercials for whatever product some loud mouth boob is hoping your recent case of insomnia, as well as the resulting delirium, will pay for it. And this ‘free gift’ while free comes with an alarmingly high-interest rate paid out by pounds of flesh.

But through it all…I have to admit that I am also grateful for it. I know that sounds weird.

I know things other people don’t. I see things through a lens other people can’t. Now, I am not alone in this, I’ve found a massive group of others like me. Which, of course, makes me grateful as well since I don’t feel like a freak anymore.

I think that was the worst part. Thinking that the hell that went on inside my house was an anomaly. Now I’ve known other child abuse survivors but their stories consisted of alcohol or drug use. Ours happened in full sobriety. It was the sobriety of all it that drove me into madness. That’s the hard part.

When I was little, I was a gentle little kid who everyone called Freddie Boy. And Freddie Boy took that title and ran with it. I used to introduce myself as Freddie Boy to strangers. My dad said people used to think that was so cute, he relayed to me on the telephone. “Before…”

Before what? Before I came out as gay or before I stopped you from beating me? I’ll never know.

But I am also grateful for the path it’s lead me on. As screwed up and as bumpy as it’s been I feel like that to hate it would mean I’d have to be ungrateful for my husband as well. And I can’t do that. I won’t do that. I am a huge believer in providence, oddly enough. And I have worked out that because I was looking for love, I sought God. Because God is ultimately love.

As awful as those memories are. I wouldn’t trade them for where I am today. And it was only love that saved me. Isn’t love the only thing in the end that saves any of us?

People don’t like that. The ‘love’ God.

They like the God of Retribution. Revenge. Anger. Wrath.

Frank Schaffer made a good point when he said, “The same people that believe in that kind of God, believe the Jewish Prisoner who was gassed at Auschwitz also went to hell because she didn’t accept Jesus Christ as her personal savior.”

That’s not a god. As Frank also points out, ‘….that’s making God dumber than we are.”

I am not without fault. God help me, that isn’t the case.

But I went my entire life thinking everything bad in my life WAS my fault because of being a sinner. And that was before I even began to deal with my homosexuality. Throw that in. I’m just screwed.

So I guess this is about power in some ways because I’ve stripped those who used to have it over me by stripping back the belief system that for fifteen years was drilled into my head. Or perhaps that is what this blog is doing. Stripping it back layer by layer till all that is left is me.

I have the power. I am thankful for figuring out where that mess ended and where I began.Getting through that mess was hard. Learning to be thankful for it in part, is harder. It took me long enough.

I’ll write more later…

 

 

 

Message in a bottle (part 7)

 

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I recently quit smoking. And by recently I mean forty-eight hours ago. 2 days. And boy do I miss it. I am not doing it cold turkey. No. I think that’s inviting insanity. And for someone who gets extremely moody if I get hungry, I don’t think that’s a good idea. My husband and I are using a vaporizer as cessation. Now I know what people say, vaporizers aren’t completely safe. And that’s true. We read up on some of the literature that talks about the dangers. But put next to cigarettes. There is no comparison in regards to danger. Zero. From there we’ll wean ourselves off of those.

But yes, I do miss lighting up. I was a Marlboro man most my life although I started off on Newports when I was in high school.

And it was cigarettes that got me beaten one morning while my father was in a bad way.

See, I didn’t start off a smoker. But my friends’ parents and my friends were. In my idiot 15/16-year-old logic – I figured – that if I was being accused and catching hell for it, I would just give in and do it. I was coming home from my friend’s houses smelling like an ashtray. They all smoked inside, especially during the winter months.

But the original cigarettes I’d smoked hadn’t come from my friends. Or from peer pressure.

See, my parents treated their love of God, like a drug. Or a drink. And often times they would ‘fall off the wagon’ and leave church. And when that happened, the beatings on Saturday night, the inner family feuds, the banning of certain television shows were lifted, movies were purchased, we did things as a family and my parents would smoke and drink.

Now as a kid that had all of that drilled into his head as being wrong. It was hard to watch them drink and smoke. But as I grew older, I came to expect it. Their faith and personal lives swung like a pendulum.

Nothing was stable. Nothing. That’s the root of the insanity of this story. Our lives were in a constant state of upheaval.

But I digress. It wasn’t my friends’ cigarettes I smoked first. It was my parents. Left in a little saucer on the kitchen table they used as an ashtray.

It wasn’t my friends’ cigarettes I smoked first. It was my parents. Left in a little saucer on the kitchen table they used as an ashtray.

The final time I’d been beaten, my mother yelled in from the dining room into the bedroom where my father had a fifteen-year-old me bent over, bare-assed, breaking my will and stripped of dignity (a 15/16 year old has things his parents don’t need to see. Which sorta makes this demeaning in a sexual way) – and told him to “…beat the hell out of him. He’s down the street smoking with those bitches.”

At this point, they were back in church and had changed once again. By this time I’d gotten so used to the on again off again relationship they had with christ, I’d stopped shifting along with them. They weren’t believers. They were addicts trading booze for Jesus.

However, in the midst of his new high with Jesus, he’d finally been able to use a wooden plank he brought home from work, in the shape of a paddle, on one of us. And unfortunately that morning, I’d drawn the short straw. He’d been positively giddy that the two-inch thick board, with holes in it, would make a whistle before it connected. And boy, it sure did. I was bruised for weeks.

He doesn’t know how close he came to dying that day. I often think about what would have happened if I had turned on him. Snatched that out of his hand and beat him to death with it. No jury in the world would have convicted me. Or perhaps they would have. But they’d look at their children a bit different from that point on.

Instead, this incident resulted in me taking them to court. At that point, I’d had enough. I left home, called social services, and at sixteen years old stood in front of a judge. No kid should have to do that. To have to turn on your parents. To be the one that put an end to years and years of abuse. And even though I lost my case for emancipation (it had been outlawed in Michigan a year prior) the physical shit ended.

But from that point forward, I smoked every day since then.

This blog, my yoga, book writing, poetry, my smoking cessation – is a way to let go. A way to say goodbye to all of that. I’m ready, now, to quit. It just took me fifteen years to get here. So maybe I don’t miss it so much.

 

Ugh, these people were assholes. They were fucking detestable assholes.  And their ‘god’ and ‘church’ was a joke.

Fuck them.

I’ll write more when i can.

 

 

Message in a Bottle (Part 6)

“Do you know if you were to die today, that you would go to heaven?”

Yikes. That’s the million dollar question that could have many different answers. But it was a question posed to me by my father in our home in Detroit when I was seven years old. I remember it clearly.

I was sitting on a picnic table my father had built for a kitchen table inside of the house. I remember sitting next to him as he asked me that question. I remember it was summertime. I remember that his friend Mr. Z came over afterward.

But I remember my father sharing with me the gospel and him reading to me the Bible where it says that every man is a sinner and without Jesus would go to Hell. And then he described Hell to me – a place of eternal torment, where the body and the worm is never consumed, and it lasts for all eternity.

Your damn right I ‘got saved’. And afterward, he explained to me that I was 100 percent saved and could never lose it. Ever.

Everyone loves certainty. Right? Knowing what’s going to happen next? Knowing 100 percent that no matter what, you’re gonna be alright?

It’s sort of a rare thing in this world.

Or is it?

The foundation of Fundamentalism in Christianity is that 100 percent pure certainty. And it’s not just in regard to going to heaven. That amount of certainty exists in other facets of it as well. The 100 percent belief that The Bible is God’s word. The 100 percent belief that the King James Version is the only correct translation. The 100 percent beleif that the pastor is God’s chosen man and anything he says, does, etc. is all anointed by God. His political views are your political views, his words are your words, his social views become your social views. His opinions on books, movies, prime time television, going to the movie theater, the mall, the beach, how to raise your family, how to punish your children, how to punish your wife, how a wife should look for her husband, and on and on that goes…

And all of it is certain.

Yesterday, 2 events took place inside of the United States and as far as we know, Isis – or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (and curiously the name is identical to an Egyptian goddess) has claimed responsibility.  That person(s) stabbed a group of people at all mall. Hurt a lot of them. Also last night, someone detonated a bomb in the neighborhood of Chelsea in New York City. It is unknown at this time who was responsible. Like the certainty I was offered on the picnic table, certainty that I took because Hell sounded like it sucked, these people also acted on certainty.

For 15 years, America has been combating certainty. Absolutism. Another term for that is FUNDAMENTALISM. And for fifteen years there has been a hyper-awareness of the religion Islam. Now, prior to 9/11 most people didn’t know where Afghanistan was on a map, didn’t know who the Mujahadeen were, had no clue what a Taliban was, Osama Bin Laden may have been a bit more familiar given then 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center by Mohammed Yousef, but not much more. Today, however, especially in New York – people know these terms.

And politicians do what politicians do – especially if they suck at being politicians and want to distract from their own platform – and do their best to draw attention to a group of people as a distraction. Is ISIS a threat? Yes. Duh. Were the Taliban a threat? Sure. How about Al-Queada? Hamas? Hezbollah? The PLO? Sure. Yes. These people often kind of suck.

What do they all have in common?

The dummies would say Islam. Or Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, and Donald Trump – but I repeat myself…

Someone who knows better, who grew up in fundamentalism, would know better. The things they have in common is fundamentalism. Absolutism. And most of all, Certainty. They’re very very sure of themselves. They know 100 percent their convictions are correct.

Sound familiar?

 

What if I were to tell you that Fundamental Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal is to Christianity what The Taliban is to Islam?

Oh, you’re kind of reaching, some would say.

Am I?

See, Certainty can be a real mother for people who don’t possess it.

Certainty causes people to fly planes into buildings, shoot abortion doctors, call women who’re seeking an abortion, whores. Certainty allows children to be beaten and tortured, women to be raped and told to apologize to their rapist in America, stoned to death in the Middle East. Certainty allows cognitive dissonances. It hides sociopathy. And is starting to be considered not only by The Pope, but by health professionals, as a mental illness.

In interim before society takes that leap. Listen to who the biggest screamers are over Islamic Fundamentalists setting up Sharia Law, etc. People like Franklin Graham who is so not his daddy. Jerry Falwell Jr who is his daddy. The far alt right, the fundamentalists – those who have insisted that man live under THIER thumb. See Isis isn’t so much an invading force to them as it is a threat to their power. Franklin Graham – notoriously anti-lgbt – even tried to plead with the LGBT community to resist them.

“They throw gay people off buildings over there!”

Yeah, Frankie? How uncivilized of them. Here, we just guilt them into suicide because you make them so CERTAIN that they are better off dead than being gay.

I’ve changed my mind on my whole ‘saved’ state of being. Mostly, because I’ve had to give up on certainty. Certainly tells me that the hell I went through as a kid was justified. My head, my heart, my soul, and my conscience, say otherwise. I don’t even believe in Hell anymore. And I’m kinda suspect on the idea of Heaven. I think these aren’t destinations and agree with Pope Paul, I think it’s a state being. I’m not certain, though. But I am getting to be okay with that.

America has it’s own problems with fundamentalists. Just because ours don’t ‘have funny names’ doesn’t make it untrue. 411722_orig

I’ll write more when I can