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I was taught that you earned respect first by belief, and then by your works. That you must live the example you preach to others, and to fail to do so required public shaming amongst your family and fellow church goers. The stigma of being "that church member" was enormous, so the day I was caught wiping a huge booger on the bottom of our metal flip out chairs, I panicked, running for cover in the bathroom. Now, I was only 8 years old at the time, but my supposed friend Obi, saw me do the disgusting deed and took his soulless ginger ass to Brother Bob, and I could see the serious looks between the two as Obi tattled on me. Seeing the darkly bearded eyes and heavily browed face of my Sunday school teacher searching for me in the crowd, I ducked down, mixing in with the large 50+ crowd of kids that were exiting the room at the end of the Gospel Bill Show. Of course the teacher figured out where I had run and hid, sending in Sister Wanda, our pastor's wife no less, to come pull me out of the bathroom. Serious looks, thin pressed grimacing lips, and a large brown paper towel met me in there when Wanda caught up with me. Of course, Brother Bob spoke with my asshole father, and I got my ass lit up later for embarrassing our family like that. For pity's sake, I was an eight year old! With hay fever! Put the two together and what do you get? An itchy nosed booger picking eight year old girl, not a dastardly sinner that is shaming the entire church and its mission. You wouldn't have been able to tell the difference, though. Still, that event still sticks with me to this day. I learned how quickly perspective is lost when inside the realm of God and His godly halls of worship. I understood the hypocritical application of judging of fellow humans. I also learned a hurtful lesson in religious showmanship. Showmanship was used to gain favor, throwing one's supposed brothers and sisters in Christ under the bus for the smallest smile and acknowledgement from favorite pastors and teachers. I never spoke to Obi again after that day, and I never enjoyed Sunday school again, always in fear the slightest thing I might do would again be reported, earning more social and familial punishments. Trust in my fellow man dwindled sharply that day. Showmanship is a humongous pet peeve of mine, and if I catch even the smallest whiff of it when interacting with someone (even lifelong friends), I feel such an intense disgust I usually excuse myself from the experience. To make oneself appear more appealing by injuring another makes me seethe; I will rant for hours to empty space when I have such encounters. I don't like walking away, it wounds me so deeply I want to verbally abuse, I want to physically repel, I want to rebuke and retaliate with a fiery anger hotter than any damned Hell could possibly cook up. But after awhile of doing that, and for most of my childhood I did lash out in physical anger, I realized there wasn't any satisfaction. I would leave the confrontations exhausted and feeling even more helpless. I would feel so damn defeated because I let myself be so exposed and opened even further to the very judgements I was terrified of. So, I began to learn how to turn the other cheek. How to stare ahead, through the disgusting sacks of shit that wallowed in the brown muddy pig pens of such capitalizing tactics for attention. Yeah, I still harbor a lot of wounding anger. Everyday I find this type of abuse in my daily encounters at work, home, and online. Online I seem to tolerate better because I can kind of see it coming and just exit the conversation before getting a full dose. At work it is a very tough issue. Often, I sit there throwing the mail up into the mail case, listening to some of the more religious members of my coworkers having fun degrading another, speaking extra loudly about something they might have overheard to draw in the supervisor's attention. It's so high school, and I have to be immersed in it. Folks fail to understand that I don't HAVE to ignore their behavior. I don't HAVE to tolerate their cruelties to one another. I don't HAVE to sit by quietly, trying to focus on stupid dental fliers that are too large for the case slot. There is a weird culture evolving in our society, especially out of the religious communities, where there is a misplaced security in the way society is supposed to behave. There is an assumption that anyone who wants to be accepted will tolerate abusive behavior and turn the other cheek. There is an assumption that one's silent dissenting actually means inattention. It's like it is some kind of unspoken rule of etiquette. We can act like dickheads, and because we are all part of the same club (work, church, family, what have you), you aren't going to say anything and be cool with it because we are on the same team, and sometimes team members are going to hurt each other. The whole notion of not having anything nice to say means you should not say anything at all has been projected onto the bystanders and victims who do not agree with a group's behavior. Even members of these abusive groups are unable to step forward and help put a stop to it all, but instead agree they shouldn't say anything in order to be behaving appropriately. You see this in everyday interactions between atheists and the religious, the religious and other religious, and even in government. Well, fuck that. Years of being told I would have bed wetting episodes outed to the church if I didn't stop ruining my sheets every night, being called a christian hypocrite for hours at a time before church because I had not wanted to sit still to have my hair brushed because it hurt, being told by my pastor that my flesh was out of control and was dominating my spirit because I couldn't control my reactions to abusive behavior; these things are why I don't want to sink to the level of those who hurt me. Who turned me into their godly superiors in exchange for praise and acceptance while once again leaving me in the ditches of childhood despair. But I'll be damned if anyone else will use that understanding against me, taking advantage of me, belittle my humanity. No more gaining at my pain. I'm not a personal rag mag for you to look at and find flaws in so that you can feel better about yourself personally. I get tired of turning the other cheek, but lucky for you, I love humanity, and as you once again try to set up my small mistakes as a step ladder to a higher level of arrogant recognition, I will quietly cut the legs out from under you. My psyche, my aura, my "soul", my essence, whatever you want to call it. When you step into it for personal gain, you best understand that unlike the angry and abused child I once was, the landscape of my mind is entirely different. I will help you eat your dust all by your little self. No amount of godly threats, snide remarks of my inability to morally reason, and certainly no amount of accusations of my being arrogant will hinder me from completely fucking with your mind.