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Old 11-26-2017, 10:35 AM   #1
Mysteria
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Join Date: Nov 2017
Posts: 28
Default Mysteria's Blog/Journal

...for as long as it lasts...I am not sure how long i will be allowed to be here.

Today's entry, my first entry, is going to be pretty journal like.

I am having a tough day. I am sad. So far I have averaged being on this forum about once a week. I do not like to admit this...I am used to being thought of as strong. But this trauma, dealing with this history, being reminded of it, is hard. I have to recover after I've talked about it.

It has been liberating and validating to find other people FINALLY coming together to talk about what we went through.

But I'm also sad, because I'm only sorta welcome here. I am still being judged and belittled. Luckily, I am used to that. I had to develop a strong will, because I learned that people around me could not be trusted, and people in authority did not always necessarily deserve to be there. You had to make do. So I'm used to it...but it still hurts. I'm still sad.

But...maybe if people get to know me they can be a little more open, and maybe for now I can afford to give the benefit of a doubt. None of us are perfect. And there may be some people like me here who will benefit from another one speaking out, as I have been benefited by the people here speaking out.

I woke up angry today.

I wake up angry almost every day, it seems.

I HATE it. I'm pretty sure it's mostly chemical. it is too consistent, both the mood and the obsessive thought patterns.

I do take medication for depression. Thankfully it works really well! It is only in recent years I have learned that depression often affects individuals in the morning. I had not noticed that pattern, but I have had difficultly all my life being anywhere on time, especially if it required morning hours. I almost couldn't hold a job. But I eventually found one where I am able to make my own hours. So thankful. Since then I learned about depression and morning and sleep issues, and so much of my life now makes sense.

I hesitate to say this, but I almost kind of wish I felt merely depressed in the morning still, instead of angry. The anger is getting to me. I have a long relationship with anger. It has helped me in many ways. Anger is important like many "negative" emotions: like physical pain, it is there to tell you when something is wrong, and help you do what you need to protect yourself or get out of a situation. I have respect for anger. In fact it could have saved my life....the years I spent spiraling in depression could have ended differently if I had continually turned inward to myself. Instead I have been able to see and correctly apply fault where it belongs...my parents (no one's are perfect) and of course the leaders in the lc. The world and all that is wrong with it.

But I am tired of being angry now. There doesn't seem to be a flow to it, a useful place for it to go, and it does not seem to have a logical cause. Ever since I started taking the particular medication I take, which is an "upper," I have had more difficulty with sleep also...I wake in the morning early and cannot get back to sleep. My mind races. I actually have to take Benadryl every night to sleep through the night. For now, it works. The only thing disturbing me is the anger. I DO think that the anger may be a chemical result of the very upper that helps me wake up and be alive during the day. But I still want to control the thought patterns. Meditation helps.

I think lately this need to talk about my history, and what I lived through with the lc, is part of it. My previous therapist used to tell me that repeated thoughts, where you're reliving memories as if they've just happened, rather than remembering them AS memories, something that happened in the past and is now over, is sometimes a symptom of a lingering need to be heard. There is something that needs to be expressed that is still bottled up. Something that never got expressed.

This lc history is the only thing I can think of. It is something I have not talked about much with anyone.

I was reflecting on this recently, on the tendency of people to not talk about things that, when heard by others, seem awfully important to be left out or made invisible. I used to wonder why survivors of rape so commonly did not report their experiences, why they sometimes don't come out until years later, and not until someone else has said something first. I'm ashamed to say I found it frustrating. Why wouldn't they? Maybe if they had, we could do something about it! We could stop it from happening again! But I'm older and know a little better now. It really hit me when I read the account of the girl who had been raped by Brock Turner. How she woke up and no one explained anything to her, how she had to put together the pieces, how she found out what happened to her from looking at a newspaper that described some girl found in an alley.

I realized how if that had happened to me, and no one else had been there to talk for me or who had witnessed it, I wouldn't want to talk about it either. I wouldn't want it to be real. Maybe it's not real, not important, if you don't acknowledge it. No one wants to be defined by the worst thing that happened to them. I don't want to be defined by the way I have been hurt by the lc, or by my father (the two are wrapped together almost inextricably). I feel like, the best "revenge" is to live well. Right? To be happy. To not need them. I'm sure we all want that. and that's true, too.

But to pretend it didn't happen, and it doesn't matter, and it doesn't affect me today... *sigh* to pretend I don't relive that hurt when I think about it, and therefore am still harmed as if I were there right now...I can no longer afford to do that. Truth is important to me. It is perhaps the most sacred thing after Love...and I consider them to be pretty much the same anyway. I have always thought that honesty is always the right decision. In particular and in this case, I have to be honest with myself. So here's me being honest.

I'm still grieving and sad.

I'm sad that the people who I thought of as my family let me down, and allowed me to be hurt. I'm sad they didn't accept me. I'm sad they don't understand me even now. I wish they hadn't done things that were wrong. I wish they hadn't hurt the beautiful, innocent soul that I was, and that is still a part of me, no matter how grown up I want to be, no matter how much I've learned, no matter how strong or smart I am...that person, that small person that was innocent and kind and simple and loving, and needed to be loved, is still there. She was abused. She was disregarded. She was "ruined" in a way...marred, when she could have been cultivated. I'm thankful it was not in horrible ways others have been...and I feel horrible for the ways others have been more abused. But she was still abused.

And you don't outgrow that. You just tell about it, I guess. You tell your story, and at least it's yours now and not theirs to tell for you.

I have come to appreciate and respect that human beings are truly fragile. We are inherently imperfect, so even when we don't mean to, we cannot avoid hurting each other. And not meaning to does not erase the effects of our actions. We can't go back and undo them. The best we can do is recognize, apologize, and try to make it right if we can. And when we're on the other end, the best we can do is move on and turn all experience into strength and wisdom, which makes us want to do better ourselves. But part of that moving on is being real, and admitting to being broken and vulnerable, able to be hurt.

I hesitate to say all this here. This may turn out not to be the place to do it...I don't know. I hesitate because when you tell people anything about you that is vulnerable, like being treated for depression, suddenly that becomes a flaw that people throw in your face later when they disagree with you. Suddenly they see you as something to be fixed, and somehow they themselves conveniently know how to fix you.

I wish we would stop trying to fix each other. I wish we would simply recognize the brokenness, the innocence, the simplicity in all of us, the ease with which we hurt, and accept it. And appreciate it. It IS part of what makes every person beautiful. It's okay not to be perfect.

One of the things...perhaps one of the biggest things, for me...that happens in a place like the lc is this complete de-valuing of the very things that make us human. There's a constant striving to be something else, something more. And then constant, CONSTANT shame, for not being able to be anything other than human. The things that make us human are seen as failings, falling short.

Most paths agree that it is desirable to be better. To be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be. My path includes that belief.

Hmm....I guess that's a good segue to actually get into talking about the path I'm on currently.

*sigh*

So as I've said in other places, yes, I'm a pagan.

And I now realize that that simply means "athiest" to many people. In general, modern culture is still learning to even accept that earth centered religions and neo-constructions of early religions are actually a thing, are actually a serious path for people. So they just assume that being pagan means being nothing. The irony is that's how the word "pagan" came about in the first place...as a derogatory term for people of a different religion that was not seen as THE right one. We do this with words...like "savages" and "primitives." We turn them into small, neat packages of assumptions so that we can use them to alter reality around us.

Eventually, I hope at least some people will find that there really are people who are making connections with what they consider to be the divine and the sacred in other ways. I have learned that even athiests, or "humanists," have spirituality. Spirituality is part of being human. People who profess to a certain belief system do not have a monopoly on it.

In fact, here is the first aspect of paganism that has made it meaningful to me and appealed to me: Faith.

Going from any one paradigm that has become assumption all your life, to another, venturing out either by choice or because you had no choice, is going to test your faith like nothing else. It actually requires faith. It is the very definition of faith, to seek and to know without any certainty, without the approval of others, and sometimes to the disapproval of others. It is this reason people throughout history have actually been willing to lose their lives. They cannot help but have faith. They cannot help but test it. It is that important to them.

To me, even as a Christian, I understood that...that there must be a part of this life, of this walk, that is only faith. that's what faith is: Not knowing. But believing. And not belief, necessarily, as I eventually found, in a particular doctrine or system. The belief is in the idea that there IS anything thing worthwhile about faith. That there IS something to believe in, even if you never completely understand it, and can never prove it. The belief is in the idea that there is something worthwhile to having faith in anything. That there is something worthwhile in striving for goodness, in wanting to know more, in wanting to be something more. That it actually means something if you do that, in a world where it could very easily seem that existence is without "meaning" in the way we think of it. To be willing to make meaning, whether it's there handed to you or not, without knowing if it actually makes any difference, requires faith.

As inconvenient as it was for me at the time, I always knew that to be a person of faith would eventually actually require faith. That is, there would have to be things I'd face that I didn't know or understand or could prove. I did not want that, as I began to grow out of Christianity. I wanted certainty. I felt that everything should make sense. After all, I had been taught that! The lc was the kind of Christianity that had an answer for everything, seemingly. There were always more books upon books that could be published about the same biblical passages and previous books. It seemed there was no end to it. there was always more to say. More to read. If I could just read enough, if I could study and be determined enough, if I was spiritual enough, everything would eventually make sense.

So I was very upset when some of it started not to make sense. At all. I felt betrayed and let down. I was angry. And then I grieved. Because the inconvenient truth about that kind of belief system, is that it acts like a frame. It is a very filled out paradigm, where every beam rests on every other beam. If one piece does not make sense, it begins to make the others not make sense, too. If you take something away, the entire structure will come crashing down. It is that fragile, that specific, that complicated, that complex. You HAVE to believe or accept every piece of it to accept ANY of it.

Well, some things did not make sense.

This is the thing I feel I can never properly convey to people who hear the word "pagan" and give me the side-eye: How much I did NOT try to look for things that did not make sense. How much and how hard I wanted to accept it all. How much I wished that I was actually the problem, and not the structure, or the people I looked to. I thought for sure I would find out I was the problem! I was willing to remake myself. I was willing to erase myself. Even as it made me sick somewhere deep inside, as I dreaded my own death, I sought it out.

This is why I went to the FTT: I thought, like many other young adults in the lc, that if I went there, it would fix me. It would fix whatever was wrong with me that made this so hard, and then I could be at peace, and not feel anything awful...I would be able to enjoy my relationship with God without the inconvenient interruptions of the failures and mistakes of others or the doubts and contradictions that came with the fact that I must just not understand enough.

I sometimes feel like if people understood that, how hard I worked to do that, how much I did NOT want to be anything other than Christian, and the BEST kind of Christian, they might judge me less for leaving it. They might understand that I was genuine and true. That I was just like them, instead of making the narrative in their head that I must not have been a "real" believer. ("No true scotsman.") But in any case, that's how it was. We're talking about a child raised from my earliest memories on Bible stories, who took those lessons very seriously and began living them from the getgo. A child who prayed for wisdom because Solomon did, on the night I first heard that story, because clearly that pleased God, and then he would be MY friend like Solomon's, even more than before.

Clearly that was THE way to be, the way to be the best possible Christian. If someone holds a standard in front of a human, they will usually want to get to it! Unless they want to do the opposite or are the rare person who doesn't care. But I was the kind who wanted to go as far as any distance was marked out. As long as there was a line to reach that was beyond me, I wanted to reach it. Such is true with all spiritual people throughout the ages, all the seekers and mystics. And all the disciples, too.

But in any case, whether people believe that or not, or understand it or not, that was what was true for me. I did not want to have to question anything. All it did was make life hard. All it did was make every "answer" imperfect and incomplete. All it did was provide me with more work. All it did, was make me responsible for everything.

And that leads me to the second thing that is important to me about paganism: Personal responsibility.

This is difficult to explain because I'm still figuring out how it works for others besides me and those like me, but the simple way to put it is paganism and "magick" or the occult or witchcraft or whatever you want to call it (yes, I know all those terms are scary and terrifying and evil and if you simply READ them you might become possessed; oh-what-a-sinner-you-are...) are interrelated. Now paganism is usually a belief system, an actual religion with cosmology, eschatology, etc. Magick or craft are practices that may or may not accompany a pagan, but in general in my experience they do. That is easy to explain, though: like the word "pagan," words like "magick" (fyi, people who are talking about magick as a real human practice use the "k" to distinguish it from magic in the fantasy genres or from illusionist entertainment) "witchcraft" and "occult" are general, broad terms that carry flavors and connotations, rather than actual descriptions.

The truth is, what pagans may call "magick" are simply spiritual practices, many of which are found in pretty much every other religion, and all of which, if not currently, were once practiced in those religions. As many ex lc'ers know, things like meditation can be lumped into "the occult" when you're a real fundie. Anything not fundamentalist Christian can and eventually will be linked to the occult one way or another. "Occult" is a word that simply means "mysteries." That which is unknown or unknown to most. So here you can see again how language is just one more tool and weapon used by those who are threatened by ideas like personal responsibility for a moral existence.

Paganism is the kind of religion that, especially if you practice "magick," (and I do), you have to be willing to accept the consequences of your actions. You have to be willing to make decisions, knowing perfectly well you are human, you can make a mistake. But human beings have been given great power and knowledge and ability. To not use it could be seen as NOT responsible. If you for example subscribe to the idea that humanity is meant to rule nature (I don't but it's a good example), then you inherently believe you have a responsibility to do so. NOT doing so is not the responsible version of that. To do simply nothing. to not use the talents, as the parable talks about. Pagan religions and magick systems are not for people who want a parental god or authority. They are not for people who want to stay children forever. They are for people who recognize and are sobered by their own power and responsibility. It's not convenient, but it has over the years given me the growth I sought. I am STILL learning that lesson...that being responsible as a human being often means making decisions knowing that it is possible to make a mistake. There's no guarantee you won't. There's every guarantee that as long as you're alive, you WILL make mistakes. And you HAVE to, because that is how humans learn. So personal responsibility is required to work in a system like paganism. I suppose I needed that, even though I thought I didn't want it. the balance this provides is actual respect for personal sovereignty and the conscience. Respect and even honor.

So in any case, I found it terribly inconvenient, and more than that, horrible and awful, disorienting and in every way undesirable, to find that I was personally responsible for finding my own truth and defining it. Those who were supposed to give it to me were starting to fail; there were gaps and holes and they were not providing satisfactory answers. Worse than that, I could often tell they hadn't even tried to find those answers themselves: they hadn't asked the same questions. Which meant I was surpassing them in spiritual seeking. That was very disconcerting. They hadn't thought to ask the same questions as I, because they didn't need to. Questions like, "Does God really see me as lesser than a man?" Yes, I did actually ask that question, more than once. I did entertain, more than once, that it might be true. (Incidentally, every time I did, I would become physically ill. Like I said about anger earlier, the body has ways of telling us when something is wrong, because we're not always such good listeners. Not listening to the body is another characteristic of lc-style religious systems. You can't trust ANYTHING other than the "authority" on truth, whoever and whatever that is. Not even yourself.)

To these and other important questions, I could not get satisfactory answers. Once you become an adult, and yes, once you do things like go to college and get exposed to wider histories of knowledge and study and culture, you are going to start having to ask questions you didn't have to before. Once I started meeting gay people and understood them to be like me, people who wanted to be anything other than what they were, and couldn't understand why they were different, and had been from the earliest of memories, I could not find anyone who could explain how that was possible if it was truly a "lifestyle choice." And leaving out the fact that the next favorite explanation is that they are "sick," which is a terrible thing to say, by the way, really the explanations I'd grown up with did not make sense next to the lived experiences of someone else.

In fact. for a little while, during my transition from the lc to a more liberal Christianity, and then finally to paganism, I identified with gay people so much in that desperate desire to be different and be what you think God wants, only to find that you can't, and that maybe isn't actually want God wants but no one seems to know that except you...I actually became obsessed with gay narratives for a while. I also followed and read stories of women who had been called into ministry, and how they had been treated in various churches (that would never come up in the lc because it wasn't even a question), and how they could not help but answer their calling, no matter how lonely it was and how much they would have liked to be accepted just like anyone else.

So in any case, it took me years. And it is probably not completely out of my system to this day, though it looks a little different. But it took me years to get comfortable with the idea that being a person of faith meant not ever having an answer for everything, and having to look to oneself for spiritual authority, and be personally responsible not only for my choices, but for my truth and finding it. In fact, not doing so would be irresponsible. How is that faith, to never allow faith to be tested? I knew from those around me, like my mother and especially her, that real people of faith, people who knew God, knew and had learned these hard lessons. That's why they were able to have faith. That's why they were able to hear God. Because they actually learned to listen.

In my path, I have to listen. Neo-paganism is a broad umbrella covering a host of newish religions people are in the act of creating. They are not established like the world's traditional religions, with scriptures and practices handed down. They do come from religions that were once those...but as we know, those people were burned and killed and martyred and sacrificed and converted. Essentially, whole histories were wiped out. So those of us brave enough (yes, I will say I and others are brave to do this) have to feel our way, put together what we can, and experience meaning in systems that do not have a centralized authority. There's enough information to do that, however.

Anyway, I learned from very young that I had a conscience. Since I had one, it was my responsibility to listen to it. It was how God talked to us.

I learned that lesson so well that I was able to follow it even when it meant leaving what I thought was "right" and going a way that I would go mostly alone. And even though it meant venturing into territory I had been taught to fear.

And I guess I'll end this by saying that is a third thing that paganism gives to me, though it is not exclusive to paganism: Truth. I value truth, and a "true" seeker, a true believer (Scotsman, if you will) I think would do so. A seeker follows truth wherever it leaves, looking for it rather than following a prescribed path and seeking only evidence to support it. To follow truth wherever it leads may lead you into darkness...but it's only darkness from the outside. It is only a mystery while it is unexplored and surrounded by an aura of fear.

Divine mysteries are open to anyone who seeks them, and I find that people find them no matter what religion they profess, and they have the same flavor across the board. Even people with supposedly no religion - no badge of affiliation, accreditation or whatever it is that people of religion feel makes them legitimate - have access to the Divine. And they have a truth to offer, too...the ability and faith to be more than what we are, without something outside of themselves telling them they are "supposed" to. If that isn't faith, I don't know what is. I have respect for people who do not need a religion.

I have only scratched the surface here, and still not actually talked about my faith system. I have not talked about what "God" means in my religion, how I experience God, what my practices are, what I actually "believe," etc. I'll get there. The reason I haven't talked about it yet is because that's actually not what's important, in my observation and experience of Truth. I do not actually believe there is such a thing as a "right" religious system. and I know enough now to know that it is very natural and normal for people to leave a religion of childhood right around the age of emerging adulthood, and find something that they will adopt for themselves.

And that it is also true that many people will change more than once over the course of a lifetime. It happened to me once, and so dramatically, that I have respect for the fact that humans do change paradigms, and I should never assume I will always be one way, always the same. Having had it happen to me once, I know that now. Those familiar with Fowler's Stages of Faith will recognize as well this normal shift for people to develop in what they need and get from a belief system. It does not bother or frighten me, because I know now that it it's normal, part of being human, just like eventually growing up and getting married maybe, something that seems ridiculous and impossible when you're a child! Having experienced this, I have respect for that process.

All in all, paganism gives this especially, among religions: Appreciation, honor, and respect for humanity. Most fundamentalist versions of religions (and there are fundie pagans, too) end up orbiting obsessively around somehow escaping the human condition, getting rid of it once and for all, at all costs. Earth centered religions, as paganisms are often called today, are the opposite. They may strive for the best human result one can be...but it's still human. and to do that anyway, you have to understand humanity first. The biggest failing of the lc is that it has no acknowledgement of or respect for the thing most real about us: our humanity. It depends entirely on the abstract. As long as lc'ers stay where they do their best, in the realm of rhetoric, spiritual language, and doctrine, they are pretty much untouchable. There's no reason to demand their demise or find fault with them, just on that basis, except for other fundamentalists who happen to have different doctrine. their only fault there is by virtue of being one among many different interpretations and denominational directions.

But the lc entirely lacks humanity, and it is there where you can see the actual fruits of their beliefs. I'm a big believer in the actions people take speaking louder than words. Actions are what tell you what a person truly believes, no matter what they profess, even to themselves. The actions in the world of the lc betray a fundamental disrespect for humanity as part of the natural world. They want only to see themselves as spiritual. the irony is that whenever a religion does that, they become less spiritual doing so. We are in human bodies and organized into human societies in a world of matter, boundaries, and limitations. to deny that and to worse yet refuse to understand that is to completely and utterly fail at the end goal of being spiritual, which is to be wholely what we are capable of being in the highest sense (and experience moments of union with the divine). Seeking union with the divine being the result is not wrong, but it is silly to think that you can do that in the limitations of a human body...and stay there.

You cannot actually function within the "interface" of the world of matter and society if you want to do that. That's why people who do cannot live with anyone else. (The Buddha's fundamental story is about this very truth.) They have to be separated in monasteries, hermitages, and groups where everyone is like them...so they don't become influenced by having to interact with anything different. The fatal flaw of the lc. Anyone who has been a part of them knows how impossible it is to function and interact with other people if you try to live that way. That was one of the big ironies I found there and in Christianity in general: How can you preach the "gospel" to "sinners," if you can't even bear to be among them?! It is impossible, and that's why evangelism fails so hard the more it depends on this idea of separation.

Anyway...so that's some of my soapbox and my experience, my personal lessons. Maybe next time I will talk about what it is like to know God as a polytheist. And I do not envy anyone who cannot go there. I love that I was able to go there, and I"m very proud of it. I am very happy to be free.

While I wish I would not encounter prejudice, the downsides of that are miniscule compared to the benefits of finding a path for myself, and in my case, one completely separate from the fundamental flaws of the patriarchal, monotheistic Abrahamic religions as they are practiced today. Sorry, but the truth is, I don't miss it, not one bit!

But let me actually end on a better and more spiritually true note: I enjoy so much the exchanges of people's truths, and it doesn't matter what system they belong to. I am glad to read about what Christianity has done for people individually and *personally,* because the truths revealed in them are so humanly universal I recognize them as my own.

When I was Christian, I learned early to find truth and God's voice wherever it showed up, even in unexpected places, and even when people didn't realize they were participating in giving me a message. As a pagan, that is still true. I expect it will always be true, as long as I remain open and willing to see. And that is a lot less lonely and frightening, then living with a paradigm you hope will never, ever fall apart, regardless of what that paradigm is.
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