Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bah Effing Humbug!

Trigger Warning: If you are bothered by tales of sex toys, cattle prods, provoked emotions then you better just get the hell out of here. I'm ranting.

Today I find myself just irked and grumpy in church. Why? Because everything about it is starting to trigger me, from the hypocrites in the pews that I know all too well, to what I sense is fake game playing. The rancid cherry on the over-sweet sundae of guilt, goody-goody fakery and holier than thou attitudes is the too early for me Christmas over the top-top-top rah-rah-rah.

Once upon a time way before I joined my old cult church I used to love Christmas. When I was drinking the Koolaid my enthusiasm for the holiday was rote and forced than the genuine joy I felt for the season as a agnostic. I think it had to do more with the lots of extra things, extra work and extra making sure you were joyous over the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus and the pressure to conform, be the Bestest Best Good Christian You Could Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

After I left I had no more enthusiasm for the holiday, sort of like when you gorge on some food you love to the point where now you cannot even look at it. I feel that way about many things to do with my old religious life now. I gag over them. I have a hard time sitting still and listening to a sermon, I can 'do' ladies groups or retreats any longer. I don't join prayer circles, home groups, Bible studies, you name its.

It's not exactly triggering, it's more like a reaction to be force-fed something till you want to throw up the second you see it again.

Dawned on me the other day that part of this is a reaction like the one I had to a certain fun bedroom toy called The Rabbit.

More on 'The Rabbit'

Jim and I bought one to add to our fun box of sex toys that help keep 28 years of marital sex varied and fun instead of the same old 'in and out'. Unlike "Sex and the City" character Charlotte Yorke I did not become addicted to it. It was fun the first time but the second time I decided I didn't like it much even if it creates instant orgasm in like under a minute. Why? Because it was sort of like being sexually mugged, no different than when the big thoroughbred horse farms provoke orgasms in their stud horses by sticking an electric cattle prod up their asses to force ejaculation.

I don't like being manipulated into feeling a certain way without my permission. Recently I've started to realize that many of the Christian conferences, women's retreats and yes, even church sometimes, is the spiritual equivalent of being sexually mugged into an orgasm by a piece of merciless plastic. The whole thing is geared towards controlling you into a certain set of emotions or feelings and you're manipulated into an odd sort of group dynamic that creates feelings almost like you'd get from a drug.

I really do not want that. I want the freedom to feel and experience for myself, never mind what everyone else is doing. I feel this so strongly that I fired my pulmonologist of the last year for her insistence that I shouldn't feel frustrated or angry over my ongoing health struggles with my asthma. No one, let me repeat, NO ONE, determines what is the 'right emotion' or 'right thoughts' about any subject. That has stopped since leaving the old church. I own my emotions and thoughts and the quickest way to alienate me from you is to insist I have wrong emotions or thoughts. I am what I am. Love it or leave it, baby.

So now society has built Christmas into this hap-hap-happy time that starts before Thanksgiving and it's making me feel like Grumpy Cat. It's too much, it's too much hurry-hurry sensory overload. Whatever happened to having a few days, a week even, between the end of Thanksgiving and the starting up of the insanity that is American Consumerism Christmas. Not even December yet and church today was filled with Christmas sermons and Christmas carols.

When I was a child I used to get so mad at my mother because she would not allow my father to put up the family Christmas tree any sooner than two weeks before Christmas. Now I completely understand how she might feel that way. For me, the years or forced cheerful servitude in the old church during the Christmas season, combined with what Christmas has become in our society renders it as being 'unspecial', something we're all being provoked to do and show evidence of emotions we may not even feel. It's become ordinary instead of something special.

But perhaps I'm just feeling emotional exhaustion for everything I've been through since leaving the church in the fall of 2006. Spiritual emotional fatigue. I think I'm almost 'done' with church and holidays.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I've been a bit remiss the last few years because I haven't carried on the sacred fruitcake making tradition that I've done for many years. Didn't last year and during my very religious days I altered my family's over two hundred years old recipe by not adding one essential ingredient -  Brandy!

This year there was lots of brandy added, even if I am a bit late starting my fruitcakes. Three or four years ago I was going to go back to marinating the fruitcakes in brandy, bought a big bottle of the same French brandy my great aunt, the previous family fruitcake maker, always used. But it never made it into the cakes or on them. My son, back in that lost year between his moving out of the dorms and taking the three credits he needed to graduate from college, seized upon that bottle with the picture of Napoleon on it, and drank it.

During that year it was obvious that Andy was in a grudge match against his liver, because he was dipping into the family liquor cabinet a little too freely. He even drank some rum that was older than him that I only used a little of for rum balls whenever the mood took me to make them. He drank an old bottle of Midori, all the Amaretto I use for my Cranberry Amaretto pound cake, his father's expensive but rarely touched Bourbon and that cheap coconut lime rum I like to imbibe on the rare hot summer day.

The inhaling ass-whooping hoovering up he used to do to the contents of the refrigerator he switched to the booze, old as most of it was.

Now he's living on his own and treating his liver more kindly now that he has to actually pay for his own alcohol.

Mixing the fruit and nuts with brandy

We're getting ready for Thanksgiving at Margaret's house, or as we love to call it 'Feed a Jew Ham Day' since we're part Jewish and Margaret's in-laws are very Jewish. This year I'm bringing the ham and Margaret is cooking boudin and turducken. I'm bringing the alcohol laden desserts too. Fruitcake and Cranberry Amaretto cake. The others are bring pies, challah and sides.

We're all hoping Andy brings his girlfriend as we'd all quite curious. They've been dating well over a year now and I've only caught a few glimpses of her. She seems sweet but very shy. His younger sister doesn't like the gf because she says the gf bosses him around. But she doesn't seem to get that Andy is just one of those guys that seems to do better when someone else keeps him on track. I have no problem with that.

With a little bit of the fruitcake brandy in me I've been opening up to Laura about my own horrible dating history from before I met her dad. Cautionary tales of the suckiness of dating.

Like the time I dated the NFL player for exactly two dates. Date one was to a nearby Mexican restaurant where we sat around in the South Louisiana heat eating chips and salsa and drinking the best frozen margaritas and talking. Date two was him picking me up in his car, I had naturally assumed that we were going out to eat or something like that. Oh no! He drove straight to the nearest Motel 6 and informed me that we were going to have sex. I got out and called a cab because there was no way I was going to screw this guy I barely knew, even if he was an NFL player. Later I discovered he was also seeing a girl I worked with. We started talking about him, comparing notes, realizing we'd both been played. Turned out he was married with kids and living with another woman. Dodged a bullet on that one. When he was transferred to the Atlanta Falcons we were glad to see him go. I got a best friend out of the deal, who ended up being my maid of honor at my wedding four years later. He got cut from the Falcons later that year and never played in the NFL again. I still gripe about him every single time I hear the words 'Atlanta Falcons'

Or the guy I met at work that took me on a casual date one Saturday afternoon to the Salvation Army store on Airline Hwy before taking me to McDonalds and magnanimously offering to buy me anything I wanted off the dollar menu. That was a first and last date, not because he was a cheapskate, mostly because he was just too weird on the date. Jim and I did the Salvation Army and garage sale things after we'd been together for awhile, shopping, not really a date. Guys out there, taking a girl to a thrift shop and offering her a meal off the dollar menu does not make a good impression on a first day.

But I think the worse of the worse date wasn't even really the man's fault. The UPS man had been shyly flirting with me for about six months when I was working during my college years before he finally asked me out. He seemed like a sweet guy, very nice, very respectful and rather attractive. We made a date and he took me out to a very nice restaurant. We were having wine and had just ordered dinner when his ex wife ran in the restaurant drunk out of her mind and yelling, screaming and cursing. She had all three of their children with her and they were all crying. I felt sorry for the poor kids because it wasn't early, they should have been in bed. They were also dirty and unkempt looking. The long story cut short is that they had been divorced two years and she kept showing up whenever he tried to have a relationship with anyone else and caused a scene. We took his kids to McDonalds that night before we went to his house. I sat there and talked to him quite a while after he put the kids to bed. He wanted to go out again, try again, and I had to sadly tell him that I was not prepared to have that type of drama in my life even though I thought he was a great guy. I didn't want to have to deal with his ex all the time.

I kissed a lot of icky frogs before I found Jim. I'm just happy that both Andy and Laura have stable relationships without any of that ridiculous bizarreness I experienced when I was their age or that their dad experienced. Jim has told me some crazy tales of some of his dating disasters before we met. Sometimes I think finding love and falling in love without there being insane drama is a miracle in and of itself.

Wow, I wandered a long way from talking about fruitcake. Too much brandy.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Settling In

Dora is settling in nicely now after a tense day of some feline stand offs between my guys, Mary, Pedro and Kiki. See how nicely she is settling in...

She's not following us around all the time like she did the first day.She's still doing the minute you sits you pets, but I have to laugh. She's done all the things that Margaret says she will not do, eat treats, eat canned food, beg to eat human food and done a quick dash out of the front door like my guys are wont to do. 

Guess cats are a little bit like us, they do whatever everyone else is doing, either because they think they suddenly can or to fit in. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Facebook 'Friend' Rant

Dear 'Friend',

Imagine my surprise when after almost seven years of not hearing from you I opened up my Facebook account this morning and found your 'friend' request.

You are now wanting to be my 'friend'?

What happened to you telling me seven years ago that because I'd left Poison Creek Church for the mainstream church I was clearly 'not' in 'The River' so you could no longer be my friend. Remember all those times I ran into you in the gym dressing room and you either said cutting things to me or refused to speak to me. It also got back to me that you were joining in the prayer gossip about me. Why now?

Oh, is it because you yourself were run out of Poison Creek on a rail, emotionally tarred and feathered, railed against, gossiped about and treated lower than dirt? So now you want to pal around because we're both kicked out of that church like some sort of drunken tattooed scooter-trash?

It's not going to happen. I will never approve you for my friends list. I'm not holding a grudge against you. I've had to forgive you long ago for my own peace of mind. But forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. It doesn't mean opening the door and allowing you a second attempt at knifing me in the heart. I wish you well, I just wish you'd stay away from me.

When I left the church all those years ago I left a broken woman, pulled between what I knew in my heart was right and my friends, like you. If anyone had ever told me before I left that you would cut me from your life with the same ease as someone throwing away an old newspaper I would never have believed them. We were tight, we were sisters.

You and I, we spent so much time together. I took your kids to Canada with me on vacation, you took mine with you to Pittsburgh. The two of us did all the heavy lifting at the church for the potluck dinners, we did the planning, execution, cooking, dish washing, decorating, etc, etc, etc. I have cherished memories of the two of us so exhausted we're laughing like lunatics while we wash up the mountain of dirty dishes from a church banquet. I helped you paint one wall of your bedroom purple and you brought me meals after one of my many miscarriages/d&c's.

Remember all the conferences we went to? The wine and chocolates? The motorcycle ride up to Toronto one summer for the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship annual Party Conference? Do you remember the imaginary tea party we had one day while cleaning up the TACF church for the conference? I do.

Which is why when you turned against me for leaving our mutual church it hurt so badly. If you'd had just been someone I had an acquaintance with I wouldn't have been much bothered. But you were like a sister, a sister that seemed bound and determined to punish me for daring to do something different, to leave because my husband insisted we leave.

You say in your message to me that you want to know all about my children, mostly because you feel like they are part your children too because of those years. If they are 'like your children' then why did you feel it necessary to abandon them for all those years?

Here's the aftermath: My son is now 26 years old and he thinks all Christians are evil insincere hypocrites because of the way he was treated when we left. That's with therapy and exit counseling. He's forged himself a good life, holds a degree in film studies, works full time and has a number of freelance commercials and indie film interests. He managed to channel his hurt and grief over leaving the church into his senior film project, a film about Christians doing the work of Satan.

My youngest, my daughter who is 23, is engaged to another refugee from the world of Fundamentalist homeschooling evangelical Christianity. She is working on her MBA and still gags when confronted with anything smacking of religion. This is also after therapy and exit counseling.

If you had really cared about them like you claim you do you would have at the very least tried to stay in touch with them and been a loving presence in their lives.

They see through your hypocrisy now and so do I.

I wanted to stay in touch with your four children because I loved them too. But you told me not to call, to stay out of their lives with my corrupting apostate presence. I did. 

I only have whatever time I have left on this planet and right now that means I'm concentrating on my family and those people who are my real friends, that have been there for me when the going wasn't pretty. Not those that are only my friends when it suits them. Friendship doesn't work that way.

This week that means I'm in class on two days, one day helping out my baby, another day going to court with my eldest daughter over my granddaughter's allegations and PINS (Person in need of supervision) hearing. It means tomorrow I'm spending the day with my husband and few other mutual friends who are veterans. There's not time for you anywhere in my life now.

I could have really used a friend eight years ago almost to the day when we left the church. I cried for several years while you and others decided that I needed to be punished till I came back into your narrow fold. It's too late now.