Would You Write A Letter To A Fellow Blogger?

In today’s world of email, texting, and the interwebs, isn’t it fun to get real mail that is handwritten and adorned just for you? Here’s a challenge you might want to try. Oh and if you live in the US, leave me a comment and I will send you a personal hand lettered (brush lettered) note from yours truly 🙂

Fractured Faith Blog

Yesterday I posted about emojis and the death of the written word. It generated quite a dialogue and one of the themes that emerged was how much people miss receiving, and sending, letters. You know, in the post. Stamps? Envelopes? Am I ringing any bells here people? It brought back to me the excitement and anticipation of receiving mail from penpals. There is something in the care and attention of writing and posting a letter that cannot be replicated into today’s ‘junk food’ society of e-mail, text and social media messaging.

So today’s post is a challenge to you all. Whether or not you choose my metaphorical gauntlet throwing is entirely up to you. It’s a challenge to write a letter and post it to a fellow blogger. Or bloggers if you are feeling particularly inspired. It can be anything. A few lines or your life story. It can include…

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I Feel Pretty, Witty, and Bright

Being a woman has always felt a bit complicated to me. There are certain rules and expectations to be met. I feel like if I’m not happy, cheerful, or positive, I’m somehow not woman enough. And this pressure to conform often comes from other females.

I feel like the vast majority of people don’t mesh with me. Maybe I’m a giant jerk. I don’t know. But seems to me, I often find myself on the defensive or I feel hurt by their insensitivity.

According to most online quizzes that probably means I’m a crazy maker, narcissist, or worse. The thing is I have tons of empathy for people and I care, but sometimes I care too much. That’s where I tend to feel defensive.

I’ve been seeing a counselor for 6 months or so. She’s been nice and listens but we don’t mesh well. It’s not that I hate her or find her offensive. Sometimes she has good things to say. I just still feel like she misunderstands me. She interprets my cynicism towards certain things as “I need to correct this”. And when she does try to correct my out loud negative thinking, it’s off putting.

Today I was trying to tell her about my anxiety. I’ve had a lot lately and most of it is because of my family, or rather how I cope with them. When discussing how my daughter wants more friends, I jokingly stated that she thinks life is like a Disney show where you have your best friend from high school all the way into adulthood. The therapist chimed in to inform me I shouldn’t take away her hope and that some people do have childhood friends. I felt like I hit a nerve with her because then she said “I still have my friends from high school and so do my kids.” OK, so don’t tell my kids the reality that most people I know don’t?

So in our last few sessions, I’ve felt worse walking out of therapy than going in. And I feel like she overlooks the main point: my anxiety and stress. Instead, she addresses my parenting or communication issues. Is that the point? I didn’t come there for parenting advice. And I hate trying to explain to her that I’m cynical and although I tell her how I think, that’s not what I say to my daughter. I just feel defensive because I’m not Mrs. Positivity like she is.

On one other occasion while expressing my anxiety, she told me to look for things to be thankful for. Oiy. First off, I already know that and secondly, positive thinking is horse shit. It doesn’t do me any good to focus on positivity when I have a panic attack. Let’s ignore the tornado and pretend it’s sunny. Stupid.

So that leaves me with two options: stop going to therapy or find a new counselor. Part of me just wants to quit because it’s exhausting having to start over and bring up all my problems again and then what if that fails too?

On the other hand, the therapist we use for our marriage is like a breath of fresh air. I’m considering seeing him by myself if that isn’t too weird because with him, I state how I feel and he seems to get it. I walk out feeling validated. I don’t have to over explain my sense of humor or be told I should be doing this or that with no relation to my therapy goals. He doesn’t tell me to vibe positivity. He doesn’t coddle me either but offers advice that actually helps.

Part of me wonders if I’m just not a person who does well around most women. I seem to defy the female norm sometimes. I hate bridal & baby showers. I try to talk about other things besides motherhood (I’m more than a mom and wife). You won’t find me knitting. I do garden and I am artsy, however my gardening skills are amateur and you won’t catch me painting florals or girly crap. I am cynical and sarcastic and sometimes inappropriate which makes most guys laugh at me because they don’t expect it, but makes me unlikable by some women. I do have girlfriends but they tend to be like me. My best friend bakes and knits, but she also cusses and can spar males in karate and drop them to the ground. When we get together, we laugh at each other’s inappropriate stories that would make some women cringe.

Oh, I can be feminine and girly when needed (that’s how I attracted my husband lol) but I’m not a pushover. I don’t sugar coat things or prefer politeness over honesty. I’m not into thinking I have to be cute and sweet and never express negativity. I’m definitely not a stepford wife and I don’t feel the need to apologize for being realistic and honest. I wish someone would’ve been honest about life when I was growing up instead of going into adulthood thinking marriage was like a fairytale. Nope, I will not feel bad for stating what I know to be true. That’s not squashing hope. That’s offering a dose of reality.

My main point is that I don’t seem to mesh well with other women. Not the phony, overly positive types anyway. I’d honestly rather be friends with guys. And maybe finding a guy therapist would better suit me too. I like honest, real people not ones that tell me to blow positivity up my ass and everyone else’s.

I guess I’m just too old to have to waste energy explaining things like sarcasm to some people. When I told the male therapist one of my cynical thoughts, he laughed and agreed with me.

I guess I should’ve been born a dude.

Getting rid of social media

Last year I had a blog that I was trying to monetize. I thought maybe it would be fun to try to make money myself from blogging. I spent lots of money, time, and energy on it only to realize it wasn’t me. Expensive lesson, I guess.

In the process, I had social media everything. I had Facebook pages, Twitter for business, and Instagram for business. I signed up to Medium and Quora as writer and expert question answer-er. I basically spent all my free time living online.

I still have two blogs that I paid for but I’m finding them annoying. I rarely ever post on either one and when it comes time to renew my hosting, I will just cancel them. Feels like a bit of a waste but I can’t envision sucking more money or time into it. Its just not something that brings me joy.

I’m finding I need things to be really simple. If someone wants to know about me, they could call or text me. On my social media pages, no one even seems to care what I say. So why keep up the charade? And I’m tired of trying to keep up with people online. At the end of the day, it’s all self absorbed BS. My life is better without it.

I just spent about an hour unsubscribing from countless blogs I used to follow. They are all the same, honestly: Here’s the bait, here’s the hook, buy my stuff. That’s just not me and why my blog ended up failing. I hate con jobs and most blogs are like that.

The older I get, the more I realize that my energy needs to be put in things that actually matter. You know the story of how to get rid of things: hold it in your hands and if it doesn’t bring you anything but joy, it goes. That’s exactly how I feel these days with everything–relationships, technology, social media, belongings, or requests for my time. I no longer feel obligated except to myself and to my immediate family.

So it makes sense to declutter and detach from the online world. I enjoy this blog because it’s my expression and there’s no obligation to anyone or anything. It’s just me being me. It’s ok if only a few read it or none at all. I’m not parading myself to the masses to get subscribers.

But social media doesn’t bring me joy. It brings a lot of regret, negativity, and annoyances though. Therefore, with the exception of email and this blog, it can go bye-bye. I will be deleting all my accounts going forward.

I wish people didn’t solely communicate on Facebook or Twitter but they often do. So my world is very small and the people in it, dwindling. That’s ok. What’s important will be easier to define when the chaos of social media and the pretense is gone. It will be easier to pick out those who truly cared from the crowd because the smokescreen that is social media will be long gone.

How to be Christ-like

We had a grad party this weekend for my oldest. I shared something personal with a Christian friend of our family. I told her about some struggles with my youngest daughter. Instead of empathy, she got a bit riled up and told me I needed to cast out Satan. Then started talking about the culture and how evil it was. When I mentioned my daughter broke her tibia and was upset she couldn’t drive, she rolled her eyes. I walked away.

Later she asked my husband & I where we attended church. I snarkily said, “Church of the Holy Comforter” meaning my bed. She got defensive, “I’m just asking”. But I know her. She’ll write me off and act like I’m trash because I don’t go to church. She already was being super rude.

Is it not obvious to her that she acts like a religious nut? And is it any wonder then why I don’t want to attend church? I mean, if she acts like that and we are supposed friends, I can only imagine what people I don’t know well will act like.

The concept of Christ, in and of itself, is beautiful. His dying to save humanity. His selfless life. His deep love for people. But often times all I see in his followers are judgments, criticism, and pointed fingers. Empathy is nonexistent.

I hold on to the beauty of Christ however small it is right now. I don’t feel like I love God or want to pray or read the Bible, but I do recognize the goodness in His life. If God is real (which I haven’t judged against as of now), then he’ll have to swing me back through his own methods. And it won’t be from judgy church members or finger pointing Christian “friends” .

Friends are friends forever

I sometimes miss the idea of church. The idea goes something like this: you belong to a group with built in activities. That group, whether feigned or not, seems to care and give you a sense of support. Your kids automatically have a group to be in. And if you need prayer or advice, this group will listen and pray, even though most of it is obligatory.

I just miss being lied to I guess.

My daughters’ graduation party is on its way and I was thinking of who I’d invite. Besides the people I still talk to in my own family and my in-laws, really only one set of friends will be there. My daughter is on the spectrum so she’s struggled to make any friends. And we lost touch with almost every “church person” I’ve known. Kind of a sad celebration, but it is one even with a limited show of people.

I think of all the churches I’ve attended and the people I no longer talk to. Sometimes I get sad. Maybe I don’t really miss church but I miss feeling like I belonged, even if most of the time it was fake. People were surface level and the minute we left, our relationship ended. I still feel sad like it was my fault. But they could’ve tried too.

Now I’m 40 and have really one friend only. She lives a ways from me. I have another friend I reconnected with but she’s in another state. We interact through text messages mostly. Otherwise, I run into people sometimes. Our interactions are friendly but distant.

I ran into a homeschool mom tonight and although I enjoyed her company and I laughed alot, I felt sad. This is all the relationship will ever be. Me bumping into her. Joking about odd things. Then, the end. In another life, I would have gone out of my way to have friends and make it work, but now I just appreciate the small pleasantries and joy and then move on. I don’t force friendships.

I guess I figure if someone really cares about me, they’ll do more than just offer open ended invites to coffee. They’ll actually set a date or connect and plan one. Most people these days say “Hey, we should do coffee.” That’s nice. Now what?

I guess church gave the impression that I always had friends when I really didn’t. And that I had support, but it wasn’t real. Of course mixed in with that was a bunch of bullshit, but sometimes you feel an emptiness and you try to search for what’s missing. Then you pull at threads, forgetting how the last time you unraveled a mess.

I don’t have any intention of returning to church… Not with all the horrors I’ve seen swept under their rugs. I guess I don’t miss church or church people but I do miss the feeling that I’m not alone. I miss people asking how I’m doing even if it was forced.

Sometimes I just wish there were more people on my team and I didn’t have to fight so hard for them to stay. Maybe it’s because I fear there is something inheritantly wrong with me. Isolation is a hard way to live.

I’m not really sure where to find friends or what makes a good friend anymore. I used to think a good friend was a Christian but now days, most Christians are on my shit list. I really just prefer a genuine person who doesn’t hide behind prayers and Bible verses and platitudes. Of course, there are good people who are Christians but it’s difficult to keep hanging on when my belief is almost gone. I know I don’t believe in church or lumping myself in with homeschoolers or church peeps. I think about God but not sure who He is to me anymore. Most Christians aren’t willing to endure someone like me. And non Christians don’t understand my faith and struggle.

Either way, it’s lonely. Maybe I’m just meant to struggle alone.

Turning into a Hermit

My husband, who doesn’t like people, told me I can’t push everyone away. As if that’s a bad thing? I just like my peace and quiet. I enjoy being me–away from the chaos of the universe. And last I checked, he isn’t a social butterfly either. I just happen to have more people that I have chosen to not talk to. He still talks to the dysfunctional misfits in his family. I guess that makes him better than me 😛

I want to branch out sometimes. I just don’t seem to have the drive most days to do so. It’s exhausting being a mom with kids who have some big problems lately.  All I want to do is be in the quiet, not take on someone else’s problems. I have too many of my own in this time of my life.

I’m trying to work on my blog, Etsy shop, and hopefully monetize it someday. I don’t know. Seems like a ridiculous amount of work. I started up a conversation on Twitter with another Christian blogger. She runs a ministry blog and asked if we could exchange helping each other. She seems to know how to drive traffic to her site and has no trouble at all with blog comments. She actually has experience with some bigger name blogs and helped teach a bunch of things to other people. So she’s willing to help me with my blog and in exchange, I’m helping her with some printables & maybe monitoring a few forums for comments. It’s a few hours a week of my time and maybe I’ll learn something and actually progress in my blog by this time next year.

All of that to say, I’m so introverted and isolated, even trusting this person to mentor me through blogging and other things seems a bit scary. I was sitting here the other day wondering why. I never used to be this way. I mean, I’ve always been introverted and standoffish to a degree, but I’m also friendly and used to want to make friends. I used to want relationships and longed for companionship with other women. Now days, I just look at them all as potential threats to my existence. And I can only track this back to my last church experience. I’m still wounded over the friendships I thought I had that ended up tearing me down in the end. No one saved me from that place except me. Even my husband wasn’t on board with the idea at first. Now he says he regrets that. So I guess I can’t blame him. It was an utterly confusing experience that made no sense at all.

I’ve managed to try to make sense of things, but I still can’t seem to trust people. I don’t want to reach out and I don’t care if I’m lonely. I’ve grown somewhat apathetic, I guess. Is this a normal reaction to leaving a spiritually abusive church? Is this a normal response to being hurt by other Christians? I feel guilty that I basically don’t care to know other people and I don’t really want to engage with others right now. Could be because I have so much on my plate–a daughter with depression, another daughter with autism, and a son who is going through a disrespect phase. Plus marriage sucks lately too. I don’t feel as if I have a support system most days. I basically have to support myself. Makes me question why I’m even here, doing this exactly.

Anyway, life is a confusing mess and I can’t imagine adding friends to it. People don’t understand me as it is. They make judgments because they do things better, or made better choices or whatever the hell they think. I don’t even know anymore. I give up on trying to understand why people make shitty comments to me about things they don’t really understand. And this is why I don’t really want to be friends with people or let them in because when I do, I feel like I’m on the defensive.

Maybe someday I’ll get over myself and my problems and come back to reality and be friends with people. Just don’t hold your breath. I’m turning into a hermit and I kind of don’t care.

The Shaming Game

I’ve not blogged here for awhile. I think I was trying to desperately to forget about church and abuse and all the negative feelings that go along with it. And it worked, somewhat. But pain doesn’t go away completely.

I still believe in God, but I falter in other ways. I can’t seem to pick up my Bible. I don’t want to pray. I think I’m still working things out in my head about what it is I do believe. Because for years, I was told what to think, what to feel, how to talk and was shamed if I didn’t do it THAT way. That’s what church, religion, and the Bible has become for me. And I’m trying to find my way back to what I’m supposed to be. I think though, if God is loving, kind, and merciful, He’s ok with my struggle.

In the back of my head, I still hear old pastors, leaders, and their wives. Some of their comments come to mind when I think about how I’m struggling.

Are you gonna disobey God and doubt his word?

You need to be more loving, more serving, more forgiving.

It doesn’t matter what you feel. Feelings aren’t important. God’s word is!

We are sinful and deserve hell, so you think too highly of your own self.

I could keep going. You get the idea. In almost every church I’ve ever been, I’ve been told to squash who I am, my thoughts, my struggles, my feelings. It’s the way of the church. They don’t want to address real issues or have them come to the surface. They want you to hide them, cover them up, and say a quick apology to God and be done with it. And after 40 years of that, I’m struggling to know how to relate to other Christians, to my family, and to God Himself.

Even in churches like my last one, where they said one thing at the pulpit and another behind closed doors–I still feel the sting of their actions. My heart still hurts. Sometimes it’s the things that were never said that hurt the most too. Showing up in tears and being ignored. Being secretly gossiped about and shunned and people avoiding you every Sunday. When your entire life has been “the church” and you release yourself from that lifestyle, it’s very hard to figure out who you are.

I find most of what comes out of the church is repulsive. I can’t handle the corny sayings and the fake concern. I can’t handle the group think. I can’t handle the cookie-cutter lifestyle that we all *should be* living. Because one thing that I do know–one good thing that’s happened to me–is that I found peace with myself, even when I’m struggling so much. I’m happy to be alone. I’m happy to do my art. I’m happy to live in loneliness sometimes. I’m happy to not be apart of the group think, the abuse, the insane thinking that goes on every week in most churches. Yes, it’s lonely–I wish I could find friends, hang out, and be apart of something. But I’m mostly just apart of the world which I had to make for myself where I take my pain and wrap it into an art project. That’s all I feel I’m able to do sometimes. Relating to almost anyone these days seems too hard.

I don’t miss church. I miss the thought of lying to myself and saying I was apart of something. The truth was it was just a smoke screen. Yet, I know there are people who still go to this church who think it’s great. They write reviews on Facebook and say how much of a family my old church is and how welcoming they are. I start to feel like I am, indeed, the problem! But I know that isn’t true. It’s just a photoshopped version of the truth. It’s how they’ve maintained their image. It’s a big, fat lie.

I guess what hurts the most is it feels as if they go on happily, never knowing the damage they caused. Never understanding how every day is hard; how I struggle more and more each day with my faith. They will never comprehend the damage done to my heart, to my soul, to my emotions. Yet, I’m thankful that I am no longer being duped, being lied to, being subjected to their abuse. I’m thankful I am free. I’m thankful I can take my pain and turn it into art instead of just squashing my feelings to save face. It all hurts, but not as much as when I was there, dying inside each day I was told I wasn’t enough.

If I know anything about God, it’s this: He loves those who are on the outside–the fallen, the broken, the hurting. He loves me. I know this is true. And maybe today, that’s all I need to know.