We’ve made it to the end of Adventures in Spirituality! Thank you so much for bearing with me as I journaled through my existential emergency. You all are real troopers and you’ve been so tolerant.
I started this series in June because …well. the world has lost its collection of marbles and when that happens, we start playing more dangerous games. It was hurting my head to watch the world being divided so quickly & methodically (with a lot of correlating divisions going on in my own life).
My main conundrum in regards to the spiritual divide is trying to wrap my brain around Conservative Xtian ideals. I’ve seen this faction merge and disperse quite a few times in my ever-lengthening lifetime. When it merges and gains power it always awakens my neurotic philosopher-self. And recently my suicidal I-give-upside.
I wasn’t very old when I understood the vast difference between who i was and who the “family values” mafia were.
As a closeted trans child I feared & loathed their openness as much as they feared my secrets. The way I gather they feel about the openness of queers & transies now—Why do they have to be so blatant about it? Why do they have to flaunt their identities out loud? Why do they think they’re right & God was wrong?
I certainly can’t remember “choosing” my identity and the distressing side effects that went along with it. But I could tell that being a Xtian was a choice people were allowed to make.
I’ll just tell you some stuff about my dad:
I’ll call hm The Pharmacist, because that’s what he was.
The Pharmacist & I had a pretty contentious relationship from the time I was a toddler. He had a pretty short temper and I can remember being afraid of him from a very early age. I can’t remember the exact chronology of events, but I also remember from a very early age, I knew I was a boy and not a girl. I ALSO remember my mom telling me, shortly before my 3rd birthday that The Pharmacist didn’t want me because I was a girl. That when I was born he wanted to trade me in for a boy cat.
That is what my mom told me when I was 3. And I remember feeling like she had punched me in the gut when she told me that. I remember holding onto the coffee table I was standing next to because I felt like falling on the floor and crying.
No, not even 3 yet because I remember still felt bad on my 3rd birthday, wearing my Winnie-the-Pooh dress and swinging on the swings and watching some boy poop in the grass and all the parents laughing and the boy’s dad picking up the poop with two Dixie cups and I was so toddler-depressed I couldn’t even laugh at a real live poop joke going down at my b-day party…
Anyway, you get the picture—my dad & I did not get along pretty much from the time I was born. And that dynamic continued and intensified til I “divorced” my dad as a teenager.
I also told you that my parents started going to a fancy Episcopal church because the new family in the neighborhood recruited them into the fellowship. I could tell my parents just wanted to be liked by this new family, who had children the same ages as my brothers & me. This was around my 8th b-day.
Up until then, I had not been raised religiously in any way, shape, or form. And even once we started going to church we weren’t necessarily being raised religiously. We did not discuss any of the sermons or Sunday school lessons after church. Nothing about our way of life changed except on Sunday mornings. Nothing resembling “family values” was instilled in me simply because we were attending church.
And of course, we didn’t attend for that long—a year, maybe two—before my parents began their own divorcement.
It was only during the divorce that The Pharmacist began to notice me as a person. He made a bit of an effort to get to know me when I was 11, 12, 13. This was pretty exciting for me, because even though The Pharmacist was kind of a jerk with a bad temper, he was a Gemini, so he was also funny and cool and popular and smart and interesting. I was finally being treated like a human by someone who had bullied me all my life.
When my parents first started their divorce The Pharmacist moved away to St Pete and became a born again Xtian. That was baffling to me, but it didn’t last long. He was back to his regular self in no time. Then he married my cool, smart, temperamental, quirky step-mom and left all traces of Xtianity behind. They were the most secular, humanist couple you ever met. They read lots of Ayn Rand. They played cards and smoked and drank like there was no tomorrow. This was the only time period I recall spending time w/ my dad and actually enjoying it.
When I was 14, I moved in with The Pharmacist and his new wife for awhile. And that’s when things went really wrong. I won’t go into it all, but I ended up moving out of their house and divorcing myself from them around my 15th b-day. I didn’t hear much from my dad or step-mom after that.
Around my 20th bday, I heard they were getting divorced because my dad had found a younger (stupider, prettier) woman to pal around with. For some unknown reason, I decided to reconnect with my dad when he married his new floozie** (who was about 8 years older than me). I just thought, well, maybe we can all get along now.
[**i’m not using this word to shame any woman who marries an older man, just her]
My 20th year was the worst year of my life, and I thought maybe having family around would be helpful. The young lady The Pharmacist had dragged into our midst was a big-haired, face-spackled, gold-digging, evangelical, born again Baptist daddy’s girl!!!!!!! She was Tammy Fay Baker’s skinnier little sister and I found out pretty quickly she was not someone I needed in my life at that particular time.
So, after a brief attempt at bonding with yet another step-parent, I decided maybe family was NOT what I needed after all. I took leave of the whole paternal side of my family when i was 20, because apparently they’d ALL become evangelical 80s-style Baptist Xtians. And they really, really had it out for me because, well, though I tried very hard to hide it, they knew there was something “queer” about me. Plus I’d attempted suicide and they reasoned that anyone who was that unhappy must be doing it wrong, if you’d only accept Jesus into your misguided heart…
So yeah, I had to get the hell away from that. I went my way and tried to find the best chosen family I could. I didn’t hear much about The Pharmacist …til i saw him on Dr. Phil last year : ))) No shit…there he was with his other family airing it out on live TV. It was an a-ha moment—I’m the normal one!
I had my own adventures with Xtianity, which you read about at the beginning of this series. My family had our half-hearted attempt at Xtanity. I would never say that my parents had Conservative values. Even my dad who eventually leaned hard to the right has a dim pilot light of liberalism somewhere inside him. My mom has continued to go to church on & off all her life, same old Episcopal church, same group from the old neighborhood. For her, church has very little to do with religion and everything to do with “fellowship.” Sure I’ll pretend to care about Jesus if it means I get to hang out w/ my friends. My mom is fiscally conservative, but I believe socially liberal (at least I hope she is after hanging out w/ me for the past year).
My brother on the other hand has extremely Conservative values (and has since he was a child as far as i can tell). I think he really enjoyed the church experience, and he continued to go to church with the family friends even after we stopped going. Then he got really involved in the church—like did stuff at the altar and such. And he’s really..uh, indoctrinating?— can I say that w/out offending?—his own family with the Conservative values I think he wishes our parents had :O I’m not exactly sure what kind of church they attend but I see them more as a mega-church power family than just average Baptists.
I only have to look as far as my nearest sibling to see how bi polar the world can be. I spent so many years figuring out & then defending who i was that I didn’t have much perspective on any opposing views. They were just “wrong” in my opinion and I didn’t want to hear about them. And then the internet happened…haha, yes, but no…the internet happened and TrumpoWorld happened and I had to acknowledge, yes, some people actually are freaked out if you opt to medically transition yourself from female to male. Medically and socially and pronounally change yourself. Significantly.
That’s a lot to ask of people around you. But I don’t think it’s too much.
But now I understand on a deep and visceral level that some people do think it’s too much. That it’s a sickness. That you’re just doing it for attention. That it’s costing the tax payers a fortune. That it’s much more sinful than injecting yourself with hormones so you can make a baby (or eight).
And now, when I ask someone to call me by my legal name, or use male pronouns I ask myself, would I respect their wish if, say, they wanted me to go to church with them? Am I willing to step into their world a little bit so that they may feel inclined to step into mine?
…………….not really. But I Would. If there really was a mutual trust & communication with the person asking. And they weren’t just attempting conversion therappy!!!
So there you have it people. That was my Holy Internet Dissertation and you LOVED it! You wanted to marry it! But seriously…
I’m so glad to be done with that. I was feeling pretty poorly about everything when I ventured into this, to the point of being clinically depressed again. That was something I thought *T* was going to *cure*—that as long as I was allowed to have my hormones & my surgery I should be happy forever (just like Distressica)
And it did work like a magic potion for a year!
But magic has a shelf life; brain chemicals can slosh around if the shelf gets bumped. All my little electrical impulses learned to be depressed long ago. And I haven’t been great at untraining them. I’ve actually done damage to them and now have to work even harder to deprogram them. Congratulate me. Pity me.
So, my final statement regarding religion et al, is this: I believe in just about anything after I was able to train my brain to stop in its tracks and go back, go back a different way, the way I did on the bridge that day.
“You believe in just about anything??” Yeah, pretty much.
Shamanic breathing? Definitely.
Jesus? Sure (in that placating way)
Charity? Of course.
Socks & whiskey? Higher powers of choice
[I just heard on the radio that there is a rise in atheist, agnostics and “nones” — a drop in those who identify as religious. And maybe it’s because of where I live, but I don’t see it!!]
POST IT NOTES:
I’m a little burnt out on WRITING. Claustrophobic in a clown car of poets way more talenteder & dramatic than I. Please send me your poems so I don’t have to write my own.
I think I’ll be concentrating on IMAGES over WORDS this FALL> AUTUMNAL XEQUINOX OF CONSCIOUSNESS
So yeah, that means more ART. You’ll LOVE it. But please also send me YOUR art.