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Garnet's Journey


Garnet
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Well, I've been in these forums a few days, poking my nose in threads and such. I think it's time I share my story. This is my "testimony" if you will. I've been writing and re-writing this for the last couple of years and I'm still not satisfied with it. It's hard for me to try to distill the journey. But anyhoo...here 'tis.

 

A little background about me. I’m the youngest of 4 children and the separation in age from my siblings is 11, 10 and 7 years. As a result, I have both the experience of being the youngest child in a family and also being an only child as my nearest sibling, my brother, left home when I was 9. My parents moved with my brother and me from Oklahoma to Arizona when I was 7. We had no family in Arizona. So the influence of my large family in Oklahoma was diminished, and greatly missed, except for the summers that I went back to visit.

 

My parents, although both raised Southern Baptist, were not devout. In fact, I don’t remember ever going to church with my parents. My mother believed in God, in a way, but also thought that beliefs were a private matter. I suspect my father was an atheist until shortly before he died of cancer. Then he “converted” to Christianity out of fear of going to hell. Prior to his conversion, my father’s only comments about religion had to do with the hypocrisy of believers and how he couldn’t stand going to church. My brother is now and has always been an atheist. My sisters are now and have always been devout Christians of the Southern Baptist kind.

 

As for me, I gave little thought to it. I went to church with my Grandmother and sisters when I was visiting. But it was mostly out of duty and respect. I found church to be abysmally boring except for my Grandmother’s Bible study group. Those sessions I found fascinating and went to them whenever I could. I had a warm, fuzzy notion of God but it wasn’t very deep and I didn’t think about it much. Religion remained pretty much a nil factor for me until about 20 years ago. I was visiting my sisters and I went to church with them as usual. Except this time, we went early and spent some time in the pastor’s office. My sisters wanted to talk to me about my soul and had asked the pastor to be there to “run interference.”

 

I look back on this now with anger. While my sisters had all the best intentions, they did this when I was at a very low point in my life. I was recovering from a severe bout of pneumonia, had just broken up with a long-time boyfriend, was working in a low-paying job that I hated and was just generally miserable. It was manipulation, pure and simple, although at the time I didn’t realize it.

 

The reader’s digest version of that session in the pastor’s office is they asked me a series of questions about being a good person and whether or not I was a sinner. This tried and true evangelical method worked and soon I was sobbing, on my knees and praying the sinner’s prayer. When it was over, there were lots of hugs and I distinctly remember the pastor holding one of my hands gently between his, smiling softly and his eyes brimming with tears. “How do you feel now?” he asked. “Horrible,” I replied. He gently patted my hand and said, “It will be alright…you belong to Jesus now.”

 

My salvation was announced in the church service. Congratulations all around and everyone was welcoming me to God’s family. Inside, I was hollow and numb and horribly embarrassed. I was given a booklet for new Christians and encouraged to read it, follow it and pray. I did these things. Before I left Oklahoma, I promised my sisters that I would read the Bible…all of it…and that I would find a good “bible believing” church and go to it. I also made a particular promise to my Grandmother that caused me trouble later on.

 

The next five years were, simply put, bad. I found a Southern Baptist church in Arizona and became a member. I went to service every Sunday and bible study on most Wednesday nights. I prayed and studied and studied and prayed. I enjoyed the fellowship to an extent, but I always felt like an outsider. There was a huge emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus. I sought that relationship with an open heart and a believing mind, but I never once felt like others said they did. I never once had any kind of epiphany or knowledge that Jesus was in my life. When I spoke with others about this I was told to study harder and pray more. It would happen.

 

The rot really set in as my knowledge of the Bible increased. The first time I read the Bible, I did so from cover to cover. Each time before I opened it, I prayed for understanding. I was excited about reading the Bible because I really believed that the book held all the answers. What I found instead were questions. My mentor in church encouraged me to write down my questions as I was reading, then bring them on Wednesday night for discussion. I did this. The more I read, the more voluminous my sheets of questions became. I was given the standard apologetic answers, but those didn’t make sense to me. The answers seemed circular and illogical.

 

My questions in that first church eventually led to trouble with the pastor. He wanted me to stop my own study and read only according to the guides given out in Bible study classes for my age group. I was accused of being headstrong, willful and disruptive. I was told that the Bible must be studied in a certain order, particularly if a person was new to “True” Christianity. But the thing is, I had promised my Grandmother that I would read the Bible and part of that promise was that I would start at page 1 and read all the way to the end. So in essence, my church was telling me to break a promise to my Grandmother. I spoke with my Grandmother (who could have very easily run theological circles around my pastor) about this and she basically said it was nonsense and encouraged me to continue reading the Bible in order. She was positive that this was the best way to read the Bible and would not release me from my promise. When I explained it in that way to my Pastor, I was summarily given a choice – break the promise or leave the church. I left the church.

 

I found another Southern Baptist church that accepted my reading of the Bible and encouraged it…for a while. The more I read the Bible, the less I understood faith. How could one literally believe Genesis? Creation, Adam and Eve, the flood…all these things had been conclusively disproved. Answer: Believe in God, His ways are mysterious and unfathomable. The Bible is fact, science is a lie. Ehhhhh??? These were things that were never said in my Grandmother’s church or any other Southern Baptist church I’d ever attended. The cruelty in the Old Testament horrified me. I began to see contradictions and unfulfilled or misinterpreted prophecies. I had so many questions that after a couple of months, I was not allowed to ask them any more in the new church. Once again, my questions were viewed as disruptive and unsettling. I was told to keep reading and pray. They didn’t lay down the law exactly, of not to continuing my study, but the only questions I could ask about the Bible were the one’s that popped up during Bible study classes on Wednesday and Sunday. Even then, I was limited to one question per class, and it had best not be a question that brought the class to a halt. I was told in no uncertain terms that the fault was in me and my lack of faith, not the Bible. This was so different from my Grandmother’s Bible study classes where questions were encouraged; particularly questions that engendered discussions. Sometimes those discussions would spill over after church into Grandma’s living room or on her porch. Although her church was also Southern Baptist, it was so different from the churches I was attending.

 

So I quit asking, and kept going to church and kept praying. Each day became more painful. Each Bible reading session began with hope that I would understand and have more strength in my faith and ended in disappointment as more and more questions came up and I couldn’t ask anyone but God…and God wasn’t answering. It took me a year to finish the Bible. By the time I was finished, I was despondent and confused. I was convinced that it was entirely my fault, my lack of faith, my sin. I spoke with my pastor about it and we had many meetings and intense prayer sessions. I repented over and over and over again. I repeatedly asked Christ into my life, begged for forgiveness and mercy. I spent many, many hours on my knees. All to no avail. The next five years were pretty much a haze of confusion and self-loathing.

 

In the meantime, I was watching other believers. As horrifying OT atrocities were to me, they quickly became second place to what I was seeing in my own church. Hypocrisy, cruelty, prejudice, cheating, lying, stealing, adultery and fornication. All these things I saw going on were being carried on by some of the most “pious” people. People who claimed that personal relationship with Jesus and chastised me for not having one. Now grant you, those were a small minority in the church, but still it made me wonder. Where was the Holy Spirit? What was going on that people who behaved so badly claimed the Holy Spirit? Why was it that I sensed nothing of the Holy Spirit? When I expressed doubts or concerns to fellow believers, the answer always was some variation of “You’re not praying hard enough. If you pray with a true heart, God will answer. Repent of your sins and God will answer.” I did, God didn’t.

 

I never lost the feeling of being on the outside, looking in. My personal and prayer experiences were nothing like what other people talked about. I found that I didn’t agree with most sermons and that often times what the pastor was preaching about was simply not true to the Bible. Many things were taken out of context. Preaching of love generally centered around your neighbor as your fellow worshipper. Unbelievers and believers in other religions were to be witnessed to and pitied as they were going straight to hell if they didn’t convert. Hell sermons just left me cold. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the all loving, all powerful God also being the creator of evil and hell. I felt like I’d been locked in a cage and that for the first time in my life, everything I said or did or wore was being judged. Not by God, mind you, because all I ever got from God was silence. No, the judgment was coming from the people in the church. And Satan? That critter just never made any blasted sense to me at all. Finally, I quit church. I just stopped going one day and never went back. I think that one of the things that hurt me the most is that I never received one phone call, one card or one single inquiry from anyone in my church, despite my prolific activity with the church including numerous volunteer hours and belonging to the orchestra. I thought I had made good friends there; I was wrong. I would see people from my church in the neighborhood, say at a grocery store or something, and if they deigned to speak to me at all, they generally acted as if nothing had happened. The fact is, most just acted as if I was the one who didn’t exist.

 

After I quit the church, I started reading the history of how the Bible was written. I started reading apologetic material. I started reading criticisms and answers to apologies. And like a super-saturated solution that crystallized over night, I realized that I’d lived the last five years stumbling around, blindly believing and miserable. The reason I was miserable is because it wasn’t the truth. I think that throughout that time, I was the poster child for cognitive dissonance.

 

For the next 15 or so years seeking the truth was my journey. I went through a few stages: fundy to liberal to agnostic and finally, just a couple of years ago, to atheist. As this is already much too long, I’ll try to summarize. I talked with many, many different people of many different faiths or no faith. I studied other religions and beliefs. And one powerful fact that tipped me over to the edge to atheism was that people generally believe the religion prevalent in their culture. So what makes Christianity right and the others wrong? Nothing that I could find. This eventually led me to the conclusion that religion is a construct invented by man to supernaturally explain what couldn’t be understood naturally. This is why the Bible includes things like Creation, the Flood and Adam and Eve. I’ve found that the Bible is not the inspired word of God. It is a collection of myths, dogma with some smattering of history thrown in. In my search through the variations of Christianity and other religions, I couldn’t find anything that convinced me that God or gods really existed. On the other hand, I kept banging my head against convincing arguments and evidence that gods and the supernatural did not exist.

 

It was hard to give up believing in magic and deity. But as someone once said,” When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

 

It’s harder, sometimes, to live as an adult. Sometimes I think I would like to go back to that time when my notions about God were warm, fuzzy and ill-informed. Sometimes I think that I would like to have skipped that whole conversion-fundy-church experience that left me damaged and bereft for a while. But as my Grandmother often said, “Wish in one hand, shit in the other and see which one gets full first.” So like my Grandmother and my Mother and all the strong women in my family have taught me, I picked myself up, bound my own wounds and carried on. I have neatly folded my religious belief and tucked it away in a mental trunk along side the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus. Goodbye, God. Garnet’s all grown up now and making her own way.

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That's a remarkable history, Garnet, and congratulations on laying it all out with such precision and thoughtfulness.

 

What stood out most for me in your narrative was this:

 

I did, God didn’t.

 

Now, there's a great concise and provocative four words.

 

I'm really glad you're here with us.

 

(Btw, I, too, am the youngest by 7 years among 3 sisters and a brother, so I recognize the half-familial half-only-child upbringing that was yours.)

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Guest lori4443

Hi Garnet

 

I appreciate you sharing your story and I identified with you on many points. I think back on my Christian years as a waste and I gave all extra money I had to the church when I should have used it taking college courses.

 

When I was having my doubts and questions, I talked to a counselor from the church and would you believe, of course, I was told it was the devil who was making me have these questions and doubts. It makes me angry now. I slowly came to the understanding that much of what I thought was getting from religion was only an illusion of security, (safety, wealth, health, wisdom, going to heaven, etc.). I believed God would bring these things to me and I could feel secure that he would. Now I know you bring these things to yourself as much as you can and hope for the best.

 

Too bad the internet did not exist after my deconversion because I had a lot of anger stored up in terms of all I had been through and all the hypocrisy I had witnessed. I remember so desperately wanting to talk to others who had been through the same thing. There was absolutely no one and I still have much of that anger today even though this was almost 25 years ago. I don’t expect my anger to ever go away even though this forum is a wonderful place and to vent and share with others. I went through too much to forget.

 

Anyway, welcome to this forum and I look forward to seeing more posts from you. Take care

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I still have much of that anger today even though this was almost 25 years ago. I don't expect my anger to ever go away even though this forum is a wonderful place and to vent and share with others.

 

Lori, I just want to tell you that via major venting sessions on this forum about various issues I encountered, I did lose some very important pieces of rage. I feel like there is more room deep down inside of me where some of the archtypal rage had been. Don't give up hope. But it is necessary to arrange one's life to accommodate the anger. It sounds like you have done this.

 

I went through too much to forget.

 

I don't think forgetting is mandatory for forgiving. I understand that forgiving is letting go of the intense need for revenge. Perhaps you have forgiven, but forgetting is not possible. A book on Families and Forgiveness by Terry Hargrave says there are four stages or stations of forgiveness. The following comes from the Table of Contents:

 

Station 1 Insight

Family pain and hurt

Insight

Insight and the Work of Forgiveness

 

Station 2 Understanding

Guilt and Exoneration

Understanding

Understanding and the Work of Forgiveness

 

Station 3 Giving the Opportunity for Compensation

The Value of Forgiving

Prerequisite for Forgiving

Giving the Opportunity for Compensation

Giving the Opportunity for Compensation and the Work of Forgiveness

 

Station 4 The Overt Act of Forgiveness

Families and Forgiveness

The Overt Act of Forgiving

The Overt Act of Forgiving and the Work of Forgiveness

 

There is much more to the book. He emphasizes that in some cases it is impossible or unsafe to go beyond Station 1. Insight has been very helpful for me--just knowing that the problems in my life were not all my fault.

 

I acknowledge that the pain is there, that horrible things happened to me that were outside my control, and that many people owe me big time. I also acknowledge that this debt will never be paid, and that these people will never acknowledge having done any wrong. I set boundaries that I hope will protect me from further abuse. That may be all that is possible in some cases.

 

Garnet, I apologize. This is your thread about your journey. I loved your story. You have real writing talent. There are so many parallels between your story and my story I don't even know where to start. From hind sight we can sometimes see what we might have done differently and how this might have had another outcome. Then again, it's hard to be sure. What you say about questions and churches helps me better understand the attitude so many churches have taken toward me.

 

At one point I told the person who was working with me that people always respond strongly to me, whether positive or negative. She asked, "What might be the reason for that?"

 

Garnet, that hurt. I had no idea. I wanted her to tell me. Eventually I realized that she had meant, "What might you change in your behaviour so that people don't respond so strongly, what could you change to make yourself more likable?" That hurt almost too much even to admit it to myself. I had been asking that question for a good thirty years and now this lady had the gumption to throw it at me as though I should either shape up or ship out.

 

Retelling the story raises huge issues of pain. I assume there are issues we will have to live with for life. But they don't have to be forefront in our memory forever and ever. Insight helps with that. You seem to have acquired insight. Good to have you here.

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Thank you all for the responses to my post. I'm a bit strapped for time right now, but I will come back and give a more thoughtful response to each of you. I appreciate your comments.

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That's a remarkable history, Garnet, and congratulations on laying it all out with such precision and thoughtfulness.

 

What stood out most for me in your narrative was this:

 

I did, God didn’t.

 

Now, there's a great concise and provocative four words.

 

I'm really glad you're here with us.

 

(Btw, I, too, am the youngest by 7 years among 3 sisters and a brother, so I recognize the half-familial half-only-child upbringing that was yours.)

 

Pitchu,

 

Thank you! I fretted a bit about about this posting as I feel like I've lost my writing skills after working for some *mumble* over 20 years *mumble* in government agencies. Your comments made me think that perhaps I have a bit of skill left.

 

As for being the youngest, do you ever feel like you don't really belong with your older siblings? Although I am friendly with my siblings, we have so many years apart, no only in age but also in location, that I often feel like a stranger at family gatherings. I suspect this is one of the reasons that one of my major life struggles is feeling like the outsider. Of course, that could also be a result of the fact that I'm opinionated and head-strong. Nah...that couldn't be it. ;)

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Hi Garnet

 

I appreciate you sharing your story and I identified with you on many points. I think back on my Christian years as a waste and I gave all extra money I had to the church when I should have used it taking college courses.

 

When I was having my doubts and questions, I talked to a counselor from the church and would you believe, of course, I was told it was the devil who was making me have these questions and doubts. It makes me angry now. I slowly came to the understanding that much of what I thought was getting from religion was only an illusion of security, (safety, wealth, health, wisdom, going to heaven, etc.). I believed God would bring these things to me and I could feel secure that he would. Now I know you bring these things to yourself as much as you can and hope for the best.

 

Too bad the internet did not exist after my deconversion because I had a lot of anger stored up in terms of all I had been through and all the hypocrisy I had witnessed. I remember so desperately wanting to talk to others who had been through the same thing. There was absolutely no one and I still have much of that anger today even though this was almost 25 years ago. I don’t expect my anger to ever go away even though this forum is a wonderful place and to vent and share with others. I went through too much to forget.

 

Anyway, welcome to this forum and I look forward to seeing more posts from you. Take care

 

Thank you Lori. :)

 

I try very hard not to think about all the money I wasted those 5 years. I tithed 10% of my income when I was just beginning my career and was on the bottom of the earning chain. It makes me grit my teeth when I think about the financial struggles I was having, but I still paid that blasted, bloody church first. If the churches I attended had been truly moral institutions, I would not have been encouraged to tithe at all. Gah. Pisses me off thinking about it.

 

It looks like we both came to the same conclusion...it was alll smoke, mirrors and playing on our deepest needs. In the end, it's nothing but a giant con job.

 

Like you, I have a lot of anger. Yet mine is more towards the things that are happening now. I have found that over the years I have gone from being very tolerant of believers to intolerant and scornful. Little things, like overhearing, "Isn't God good?" when someone gets a choice parking space is enough to make my ears turn red. But I'm also still in "recovery" from living in Alabama for two years and dealing with "in-your-face" fundies there. But that's a whole nother story and I'm not sure I'm ready to write about it yet. My head might explode.

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Garnet, I apologize. This is your thread about your journey. I loved your story. You have real writing talent. There are so many parallels between your story and my story I don't even know where to start. From hind sight we can sometimes see what we might have done differently and how this might have had another outcome. Then again, it's hard to be sure. What you say about questions and churches helps me better understand the attitude so many churches have taken toward me.

 

At one point I told the person who was working with me that people always respond strongly to me, whether positive or negative. She asked, "What might be the reason for that?"

 

Garnet, that hurt. I had no idea. I wanted her to tell me. Eventually I realized that she had meant, "What might you change in your behaviour so that people don't respond so strongly, what could you change to make yourself more likable?" That hurt almost too much even to admit it to myself. I had been asking that question for a good thirty years and now this lady had the gumption to throw it at me as though I should either shape up or ship out.

 

Retelling the story raises huge issues of pain. I assume there are issues we will have to live with for life. But they don't have to be forefront in our memory forever and ever. Insight helps with that. You seem to have acquired insight. Good to have you here.

 

Thank you Ruby. And please, no need to apologize. Even though the thread starts with my journey, I hope that it also provides an opportunity for people to share about themselves and help one another.

 

It is so true what you say about hindsight. I have a saying, "My hindsight is 20/20. Too bad my foresight is myopic." Sometimes, it's hard for me not to wallow in the regrets for the bad choices I've made in my lifetime. But therein lies the path to stagnation and misery. If I flounder around too much in the past, I won't be moving forward now. And, ya know, gotta keep movin'.

 

What you say about people reacting strongly to you resonates with me. I cause strong reactions too and I think that much of it comes from my inability to simply accept things without question. Throughout my life I have been described with words like headstrong, stubborn and willful. Of late, I've begun to take those words as a compliment. It's much better than being seen as malicious or as a sheep. I prefer wolves any day. ;)

 

One thing that I also find about myself as I'm aging is that I care MUCH less about people think about me. The jury is still out as to whether this is a good or a bad thing. On the good side, I find that I'm happier, more successful in the workplace and more confident in myself. On the flip side, I'm not as compassionate or empathetic as I used to be. A phrase keeps popping up about me amongst my co-workers and my friends, "She doesn't suffer fools gladly."

 

Ah well...the journey continues, doesn't it?

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Pitchu,

 

Thank you! I fretted a bit about about this posting as I feel like I've lost my writing skills after working for some *mumble* over 20 years *mumble* in government agencies. Your comments made me think that perhaps I have a bit of skill left.

 

Much more than "a bit", I'd say.

As for being the youngest, do you ever feel like you don't really belong with your older siblings? Although I am friendly with my siblings, we have so many years apart, no only in age but also in location, that I often feel like a stranger at family gatherings. I suspect this is one of the reasons that one of my major life struggles is feeling like the outsider. Of course, that could also be a result of the fact that I'm opinionated and head-strong. Nah...that couldn't be it. ;)

My life experience with our parents was so different from theirs that it's almost like we were raised by two different sets of people. Additionally, my siblings have never moved beyond viewing me as a kind of family pet. They're awed by any accomplishment of mine -- kinda like if the dog suddenly joined in the dinner conversation.

 

I, too, have a view of them as being more like assistant parents than siblings, which stands in the way of what I guess would be a more normal and free-flowing sibling relationship.

 

So, all in all, I'm left feeling there's a certain unreality in who we are to one another.

 

Being opinionated and headstrong may go with this territory which you and I share. :P

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It is so true what you say about hindsight. I have a saying, "My hindsight is 20/20. Too bad my foresight is myopic." Sometimes, it's hard for me not to wallow in the regrets for the bad choices I've made in my lifetime. But therein lies the path to stagnation and misery. If I flounder around too much in the past, I won't be moving forward now. And, ya know, gotta keep movin'.

 

Did you say you are working with a therapist or are you doing this on your own? It's important to experience feelings as they come. That can mean "stagnating" a bit till we integrate it. If we just rush on for the sake of "keeping moving" our feelings go underground and eventually there is so much pressure that we explode. Or implode. The first is destructive to our environment in that we take our anger out on someone or something else. The latter is self-destructive in that at best it eats away at our self-esteem and at worse ends in suicide.

 

What you say about people reacting strongly to you resonates with me. I cause strong reactions too and I think that much of it comes from my inability to simply accept things without question.

 

Did you say you cannot accept things on authority??? You must be my twin or something, huh? Maybe one of our mom's--yours or mine--had identical twins and one got displaced.;)

 

Throughout my life I have been described with words like headstrong, stubborn and willful. Of late, I've begun to take those words as a compliment. It's much better than being seen as malicious or as a sheep. I prefer wolves any day. ;)

 

I'm the Lone Wolf.

 

One thing that I also find about myself as I'm aging is that I care MUCH less about people think about me. The jury is still out as to whether this is a good or a bad thing. On the good side, I find that I'm happier, more successful in the workplace and more confident in myself. On the flip side, I'm not as compassionate or empathetic as I used to be. A phrase keeps popping up about me amongst my co-workers and my friends, "She doesn't suffer fools gladly."

 

Congratulations!!!! That is a GOOD thing, no questions asked. If it makes you a happier person you are nicer to have around. Did you throw out compassion or did you set boundaries and forbid people to walk over you at will? The latter is good and I don't see you as a person who did the first.

 

Some people may hate you for setting these boundaries and for being your real self. They have enough religious arguments to sink any ship. But their arguments cannot hijack a free-flying eagle.

 

Eagle. Wolf. Which is it? I think it's both.

 

Ah well...the journey continues, doesn't it?

 

It continues whether on land, sea, or air. Hang in there. You're doing great!

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Guest lori4443

RubySera Said:

 

Lori, I just want to tell you that via major venting sessions on this forum about various issues I encountered, I did lose some very important pieces of rage. I feel like there is more room deep down inside of me where some of the archtypal rage had been. Don't give up hope. But it is necessary to arrange one's life to accommodate the anger. It sounds like you have done this. <END>

 

I appreciate your response Ruby Sera and please excuse me for being a dumbass who can't figure out how to use the quote function on this site. I'm glad you got rid of some of your anger from participaing at this site. I do feel like I let of steam here.

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Did you say you are working with a therapist or are you doing this on your own? It's important to experience feelings as they come. That can mean "stagnating" a bit till we integrate it. If we just rush on for the sake of "keeping moving" our feelings go underground and eventually there is so much pressure that we explode. Or implode. The first is destructive to our environment in that we take our anger out on someone or something else. The latter is self-destructive in that at best it eats away at our self-esteem and at worse ends in suicide.

 

I'm working through all this mostly on my own. I had some brief therapy to deal with anxiety in the late 80s; a little group chit chat, a little bio-feedback. I wasn't much impressed by that and I haven't sought therapy since. Anyway, my tendency when things go wrong is to shut down and do nothing but fret....for much too long. I've discovered that if I get up and move...literally getting off my ass and doing things is much healther for me.

 

Did you say you cannot accept things on authority??? You must be my twin or something, huh? Maybe one of our mom's--yours or mine--had identical twins and one got displaced.;)

 

*chuckle* Could be.

 

I'm the Lone Wolf.

 

I'm beginning to think we are related. *grins* I am happiest when I am alone and wolves have a special place in my heart. But that's a whole 'nother story.

 

Congratulations!!!! That is a GOOD thing, no questions asked. If it makes you a happier person you are nicer to have around. Did you throw out compassion or did you set boundaries and forbid people to walk over you at will? The latter is good and I don't see you as a person who did the first.

 

Some people may hate you for setting these boundaries and for being your real self. They have enough religious arguments to sink any ship. But their arguments cannot hijack a free-flying eagle.

 

Eagle. Wolf. Which is it? I think it's both.

 

It's a good thing as long as I don't take it too extremes. And I do think it's possible to be both an eagle and a wolf. :wicked:

 

It continues whether on land, sea, or air. Hang in there. You're doing great!

 

Thank you! I appreciate the time and interest you've taken in this. Your comments have been kind and helpful.

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