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.